Inclusion At Camp JCA Shalom

By Joel Charnick, Director of Camp JCA Shalom

Recently some parents have asked about the inclusion program for campers and staff with disabilities at JCA Shalom.  While a few camps have inclusive programs like ours, in my opinion I wish there could be more.  I think more and more camps are considering inclusion programs, and Foundation Jewish Camp (FJC) is helping by offering training and working with camps through consultations, mentoring, and offering grants for camps to increase the number of campers with disabilities.

Even before I was the Camp Director, I thought about bringing more campers with disabilities to camp.  In my job before camp, a youth director of a synagogue in Phoenix, I became close with some people working with a great organization, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK), and I thought it would be very cool to bring some of that positive energy to camp.  So when I first started here full-time in 2001 (before I was Camp Director), I met with our Executive Director Bill, who could not have been more supportive.  We applied for some grants and were a little ahead of our time, because we didn’t get those grants. Regardless, it was on our minds.


This piece is adapted from the original article Inclusion At Camp JCA Shalom from the New York Jewish Week’s Blog The New Normal: Blogging Disability