Sam Busis has many responsibilities as a teacher’s assistant at the preschool at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He makes sure the children play safely in the classroom and out on the playground, sets up the room for nap time and passes out snack. He also packs up the lunches, pins notes on backpacks and does many other jobs.
Sam, 30, gained many of his childcare skills through the vocational education program at Camp Ramah in New England in Palmer, Massachusetts. Four Ramah camps—California, Canada, New England and Wisconsin—run vocational education (“voc ed”) programs for campers who have aged out of the camps’ Tikvah programs for campers with disabilities. Vocational education programs are being piloted in several other Ramah camps as well. Each summer, approximately 60 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 participate in these programs, with some working as paid and unpaid staff at camp, and others employed in businesses in neighboring towns.
At Camp Ramah in New England, Sam works in the gan (childcare center for staff members’ children), while some voc ed participants operate the six-room Greenberg Guest House, the only motel in the country run exclusively by young people with disabilities, and others work in the camp’s mailroom, bakery, or supply room.
Sam’s mom emphasized the reason why the work Ramah does with young adults with disabilities who age out of traditional summer camp programs is so important.
“Ramah has provided our son with a unique opportunity to mature and grow in a loving environment that stresses and practices Jewish values,” she said.
To read the full article visit The New Normal: Blogging Disability – Vocational Education at Ramah
This post edited for length for Connections originally written by Renee Ghert-Zand, a freelance journalist, lives in Israel and is a parent of two alumni of Ramah California and Ramah Nyack for The New York Jewish Week.