Tikvah Support Program
Inclusion is a way of living at Ramah Darom!
Ramah Darom’s Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Support Program supports campers with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, communication disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders and other disabilities.
As part of the National Ramah Tikvah Network and Camp Ramah Darom, an ACA-accredited residential camping program recognized as a national leader in supporting children with disabilities, we are focused on providing a traditional, immersive, Jewish summer camping experience to Jewish children of all abilities. Through individualized approach and support by highly skilled staff, campers build friendships, gain a sense of autonomy, develop independent living skills, learn problem-solving skills, grow as members of the Ramah Darom community and most importantly, have fun! The Tikvah program enhances the entire camp, enabling us to teach our campers by experience what it means to live in a truly inclusive Jewish community.
Through the Tikvah Support Progam, Ramah Darom provides a continuum of care for campers with a wide range of needs. Depending on needs and preferences, campers supported by Tikvah may either reside in a traditional cabin, receiving inclusion support or stay in our uniquely designed Tikvah Support cabin space, which affords smaller cabin groupings and a more homey environment. Whichever cabin a camper resides in, they will be a part of an integrated aidah (age division) with same-age peers.
Read about five years of Tikvah Support growth by Dr. Audra Kaplan, Director of Camper CareTikvah Support
Read Things We Could Only Hope For by Toby Brodtman, parent of a Tikvah supported camper
“Our daughter Sophia has Autism and needs a lot of help to be included and participate with her typical peers, but thanks to the Tikvah Support Program at Ramah Darom, last summer she was a camper! Camp Ramah Darom was a wonderful, enriching experience that truly expanded our daughter’s world of possibilities. She had such a good time and it was a huge growth experience for her and our whole family. I would never have been daring enough to try Camp, except at Ramah Darom.” -Kayla, Palm Beach FL
- Highly skilled college and graduate-level staff trained to work with campers with disabilities, supervised by professionals in the field
- Individualized programming
- Modified schedule with minimized transitions and rest/recovery time
- Use of visual cues, schedules, and cabin rules
- Low camper to counselor ratio
- Smaller cabin groupings available
- Designated spaces for sensory breaks
- Nurturing and non-competitive environment
- Thorough preparation, including Social Stories, provided prior to Camp
Dr. Audra Kaplan
Associate Camp Director and Head of Community Care & Tikvah Support
I enjoy blending my love of camp and my passion for Judaism with my experience and knowledge as a clinical psychologist. I have been involved in both day camps and residential camp programs, as a camper, counselor, educator and director my entire life. Before joining the Ramah Darom family, I was the camp director of Camp Firefly, a day and overnight camp program of the Jewish Child and Family Services of Chicago. My clinical career has enabled me to provide individual, family and group psychotherapy; psychological assessments; supervision and training of graduate students; workshops on clinical supervision; camp consultation; and consultation services to schools and early childhood programs. I have also consulted around issues of inclusion of children with developmental and social disorders. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and my doctorate of clinical psychology from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 1996. I have worked with Jewish Child and Family Services since 1997 and I am a Certified Autism Specialist. I have four awesome children (all third-generation Ramahniks!), private practice in clinical psychology in Chicago.
Assistant Tikvah Director
My first experience working with children with autism spectrum disorder was at Camp Yofi at Ramah Darom in 2007, and it helped shape my career path. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia and a Masters in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College of Columbia University and I worked in California for many years as a behavioral therapist.
Last summer, I returned to Camp as our Inclusion Specialist, ensuring all Tikvah supported campers, living in traditional bunks had the support they needed to have a successful summer experience. As Assistant Director, I partner with our Tikvah and Camper Care Director, Dr. Audra Kaplan, in all aspects of the Tikvah Support Program.
I’m a Camp Ramah Darom alumn (Gesher ’03) and a long-time summer staff member. After participating in Ramah Israel Seminar in 2004, I returned as Tzevet (staff) at Camp for four years and was on Ramah Israel Seminar Tzevet for one year. I am currently working as a behavior therapist for children with autism in Cooper City, Florida while I complete coursework to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. I feel fortunate to be able to blend my love of Ramah, my training and my passion for individuals with special needs as Assistant Tikvah Director.
Along with our 4 and 8-week support, we also offer a 2-week program, designed for campers needing a shorter stay in camp to maximize their success. Check dates and rates.
“The biggest fear a family member has for a child with special needs is his or her future. For children with special needs, the future is never certain nor concrete. Academic programs, extracurricular activities and anything that supports our friends with special needs, are constantly being reshaped. Eligibility is redefined, funding is dropped and the future is unpredictable. But, here at camp, a place I never would have thought to be the constant for individuals like my campers, there is Tikvah, and there is hope.” -Allision Davis
Not ready to send your child off to Camp without you?
Check out Camp Yofi, a one-of-a-kind program for Jewish families with children with autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 6 and 13.
Interested in working with the Tikvah Support Program this summer? Click here.
The Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah Program at Ramah Darom is supported by generous grants from The Ruderman Family Foundation, The Foundation for Jewish Camp, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The Greater Atlanta Jewish Abilities Alliance and individual donors. All size donations are appreciated.