In 2015, we opened the Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Support Program at Camp Ramah Darom, supporting seven campers and beginning a transformation of our community. Since then, we have introduced ideas of inclusion through countless conversations, activities and sometimes by sheer force of will. We have helped campers manage new challenges and friendships, while also learning how we could communicate with staff throughout Camp about how to best include campers with disabilities. We opened people’s eyes, introduced new ways of looking at situations and fostered an appreciation for differences. And, we introduced Universal Design to our campus.
These past five years have been incredible!
The Tikvah Support Program has now expanded to support campers with a broader range of disabilities. In addition to the 25 campers living in Tikvah support cabins (cabins 33 and 34) each summer, we now support over 50 campers in typical cabins and welcome staff to our newly created Tikvah Vocational Program. We are also working to ensure that our year-round Ramah Darom Retreats are as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
Ramah Darom has become a leader and model in the camp community.
We have moved from a program to a way of being. This past year we received the Yashar Grant through the Foundation for Jewish Camp, which has enabled us to improve the physical accessibility of our campus- repaving, adding ramps, electric doors and adding a new 6-seater golf cart. As we mark the five-year milestone for the Tikvah Support Program, we will be honored by the broader Atlanta Jewish community for our success in opening our doors wider and wider by the Jewish Abilities Alliance of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta at the Power of a Program on March 1, 2020.
Welcoming an Assistant Tikvah Director.
In our effort to ensure that Tikvah and Inclusion continue to thrive at Ramah Darom, I am thrilled to announce we have added an Assistant Tikvah Director, Rebecca Birch, to our team. In this newly created position, Becky will partner with me in all aspects of the Tikvah Support Program including helping with camper screenings, developing camper support plans, staff recruitment and hiring, program development for Tikvah, Inclusion and the Tikvah Vocational Program, staff training and supervising our summer Tikvah Support staff.
Becky is an alumni camper (Gesher ’03) and a long time summer staff member. In the early 2000s, she was a programming counselor and staff programmer. Her first experience working with children with autism spectrum disorder was at Camp Yofi at Ramah Darom in 2007, and it helped shape her career path. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College of Columbia University and worked in California for many years as a behavioral therapist.
Last summer, Becky returned to work at Camp as our Inclusion Specialist, working with staff and campers to ensure each camper living in a traditional bunk had the support they needed to have a successful experience. She is currently working as a behavior therapist for children with autism in Cooper City, Florida while completing her coursework to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.
Thank you, our supportive community, for helping to create Tikvah (hope) at Ramah Darom and I look forward to a bright future filled with Tikvah, Inclusion and all the magic of Ramah Darom.