Daily Newsletter – All In

Good morning Friends of Capital Camps!

In a webinar entitled Disability Tips for Camps and Conferences, Rabbi Ruti Regan, an Autistic Conservative Rabbi and disability activist said,  “Offering a range of choices makes camp better — for everyone.  It allows people to spend more time doing things they like.  And less time failing and being excluded.”  At camp, we have an increasing level of choice, as our campers mature. Our Benjamin Village campers choose their chug (club), our Reich Village campers their chug and their sport, and our Kaufmann Village campers choose their chug, their sport and their art.

On Shabbat, we have a range of ShabbOptions (prayer options) including, Big Questions, Turf and Torah, Medication, Yoga, Torah Arts, Israeli Shabbat Music, Story Time, a Nature Walk, a traditional Minyan, and of course our community camp service.  But the type of choices that I believe Rabbi Regan is encouraging, the type of choices that foster inclusion, goes beyond these programmatic options.  Choices that foster inclusion come from the collective mindset where diversity in creation and individual difference are seen as a blessing and an opportunity.

Maccabiah broke last night full of out of the world wonder and excitement – “Houston, we have a Maccabiah!” The camp divided into four teams – Red Mars, Gold Saturn, Green Jupiter, and Blue Neptune.  The CITs’ impressive break included an original film, an impressive NASA mobile and a comet.   Even as the teams compete to see which planet should win, the concept of choices is embedded in our programing.

There are the inter-planet sports such Astronaut Training through the mud obstacle course, Rocket ship Races, Crashing Comets on the Tennis Courts, and Galactic Gaga.  And there are the creative competitions such as the Alien Chant Song, First Encounters Skit and Dance of the Spacemen Synchronized Swimming.  Campers who want a quieter atmosphere can sign-up to decorate the NASA Cantina.  And for those who want to step away from loud cheering, there is the opportunity to look for small moon rocks that can be traded into points.

Like the programmatic choices on a typical camp day, the choices during Maccabiah provide opportunities in which campers can engage.   The concept and value of choice are part of our Capital Camps culture.   The CITs not only planned and executed an amazing Maccabiah break, they thoughtfully and intentionally made sure that each CIT chose a part in the break that they were comfortable and capable of doing.

And during the next few days of Maccabiah excitement, our counselors will be hard at work – not only helping their “planet” save humankind from the comet the size of Texas about to crash into earth, but guiding our campers to choose how to get involved.  Finding a moon rock, answering a trivia question, making their counselor laugh, playing a sport, collecting wood to build a fire – each job important and a valuable part of their team’s effort. Our commitment to choice stems from the understanding that we need to teach each child according to his/her ways.  Offering a range of choices makes camp better – for everyone.


Lisa Handelman
Inclusion Coordinator