Ramah Darom launching four-week camp for teens with autism

Ramah Darom, the Conservative movement’s summer camp in north Georgia, announced the launch of a new Tikvah Program for summer 2015 and the addition of Audra Kaplan to its professional staff.

The Tikvah Program will offer a four-week summer experience for children ages 12 to 17 years who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Kaplan, who will direct this new program, is a clinical psychologist with extensive experience in Jewish camp and in working with children with disabilities.

Geoffrey Menkowitz, director of Ramah Darom, said “We are thrilled to be able to open our doors wider and give more children the opportunity to experience the magic of our camp. The Tikvah program will enhance the entire camp, enabling us to teach our campers by experience what a truly inclusive Jewish community can look like and inspire them to bring that model home to their schools and synagogues.”

Debra Michaud, president of the Ramah Darom board, added “As we celebrate the 18th anniversary of Ramah Darom, this is a significant milestone for our organization. We are proud to build upon our commitment to being an inclusive community, which began with Camp Yofi and will continue with this exciting program.”

With this new program, Ramah Darom will build upon the expertise gained from 10 years of running its nationally recognized Camp Yofi — a 5-day camp for families of children with ASD. Ramah Darom will also expand the reach of the National Ramah Tikvah Network of programs in the Ramah overnight and day camps across North America that serve Jewish children, teens, and young adults with a variety of disabilities.

Camp Ramah Darom’s Tikvah Program will be the first program in the Southeast focused on providing a traditional, immersive, Jewish summer camping experience to Jewish teenagers with autism spectrum disorder. The program will be fully integrated into a community that is steeped in Jewish celebration, learning, and ritual.