Humans of Jewish Camp: Rivkah Reichmann
Rivkah is the Associate Director at Camp Simcha Special.
Did you attend camp as kid?
I went to Camp Chedva from the time I was 8 years old. My bunk was definitely known as the camp troublemakers. Every morning, the baker would bake the most amazing baked goods for afternoon snack. One morning, we snuck into the kitchen at 4:30 am and ate about half of the black and white cookies that had been prepared for that day’s snack. At snack time nobody understood why there weren’t enough cookies that day. And to think now I’m actually one of the people in charge of a camp!
Who is the camp person you’ve spoken to most recently?
I speak to parents of new potential campers almost daily this time of the year. Today I spoke to a parent of a child recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder. She is on a very specialized diet, and needs very close supervision in case she has a seizure. Her mom was in tears by the end of our conversation, as she had thought her daughter’s seizure disorder meant she would never have the opportunity to attend a Jewish camp. That was before she had heard of Camp Simcha Special!
What’s something people might not know about Jewish camp that you wish they knew?
Even if a child has a serious illness or physical disability, chances are they can still go to a Jewish camp! At Camp Simcha Special, kids who need 1:1 support due to a disability, or specialized medical care, don’t have to miss out on the magic of overnight camp. Kids who are often the only one in their school with a disability, have the opportunity to meet other kids who deal with similar challenges to give strength to one another.
What is your favorite spot at camp and why?
The camp infirmary is my home base at camp, and my favorite spot. We see miracles there each day. Kids who would otherwise be in a hospital getting IV medication, or oxygen, are able to stay in camp because of the sophisticated medical care we have available. When campers are too sick go out, we bring the activities to them. Last year there was a camper who needed to be transported to the hospital, and his favorite singer was performing in camp while we were preparing to move him. We asked the doctors if we could push off the transport for 20 minutes, then had the singer – along with the camper’s closest friends – come into his infirmary room for a private concert. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as he sang his favorite songs together with his favorite singer and camp friends.
In honor of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), we’re highlighting the people and stories focused on inclusion and accessibility at Jewish camp all month long. Check FJC’s blog throughout February to discover Jewish camp JDAIM stories.
To learn more about FJC’s Yashar Initiative – a new $12 million initiative generously funded by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities at Jewish summer day and overnight camps – please visit jewishcamp.org/accessibility.