Amongst the brightest jewels in the crown of Jewish life we build at Camp Ramah in California are our Tikvah programs, providing opportunities for young adults and children with learning, emotional and/or developmental disabilities to experience the joy, tradition, and friendship of Jewish summer camp. More than that, Tikvah ensures that all campers have an experience at camp that includes the diversity of the world, while underscoring the very Jewish values of inclusivity and sensitivity towards individual differences.
The Tikvah program at Camp Ramah is designed to enhance independent living and self-help skills. There are two components to our Tikvah program:
Amitzim campers, ages 11-18, are included in all regular camp programs at Ramah, and have the opportunity to participate in special camp programs as well. A buddy program pairs Amitzim campers with older campers, and the teams work on special projects together. In addition, time is spent with the Mador counselors (junior counselors-in-training).
The counselor-camper ratio is higher in the Amitzim tents in order to provide increased individual attention. Our Tikvah counselors have all served as Ramah counselors in prior years and receive additional intensive training during Staff Week. An advisor with experience in working with special needs children is available at all times.
Ezra — an 8-week vocational training program for young adults ages 18-26 — captures the passion and excitement of Camp Ramah. During the summer, Ezra Program participants live at camp alongside 1400 staff and campers. They fill their days with job site experience, life skill classes, recreational activities and living Judaism.
The Ezra Program allows participants to take their existing skills and enhance them to live more independent and productive lives. The independent living experience at Camp Ramah improves functioning through:
- vocational skills
- independent living abilities
- social functioning
- Jewish community skills
Camp provides an ideal setting for Ezra participants who live in communal, independent living quarters with peers under adult supervision. Participants learn lessons of responsibility, kinship, sportsmanship and sharing.
They receive job-training experience in a number of service areas throughout camp and are held accountable for their interpersonal relationships in the Ramah community. Program goals include preparing young adults for independent living and teaching them employment related skills.
In addition to personal development, the Ezra program includes specific components to enhance their independent living experience:
- Cafe Ezra – participants devote one evening a week to running a cafe for the entire camp staff
- Buddy Program – participants are designated a special staff buddy to enhance friendships and interpersonal skills
- Days Off – each week participants will collaboratively plan their day off activity