Camp Young Judaea (CYJ), located in the Texas Hill Country, has been providing Jewish children with a fantastic summer camp experience since 1952. For years CYJ’s leaders have aspired to expand the reach of camp to allow more Jewish children to spend their summers at CYJ. In particular, CYJ leadership has been trying to create inclusion opportunities that would allow camp to properly service children with special needs. We are thrilled to report, that this summer, CYJ will take a major step in this journey in becoming a more inclusive camp environment and one that is reflective of the current Jewish community. This opportunity is possible because of the the generosity of Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Ruderman Inclusion Initiative with additional support from the Stanford and Joan Alexander Family.
The goal of this initiative is to offer the opportunity for children with disabilities to be included in CYJ’s regular camp program. This summer, CYJ will be able to address the needs of these campers and to prepare our staff to meet their needs. In doing this, CYJ will become a model community that includes a spectrum of Jewish children. CYJ has hired Rachel Kurinsky, as our inclusion specialist. Rachel will be responsible for guiding parents and camp staff through this journey.
Rachel and her family recently moved from to Houston from New York City. Not only is Rachel passionate about increasing inclusion in Jewish summer camping, but she holds a master’s degree in special education and joins CYJ with significant accomplishments in the area. Rachel has worked as an inclusion specialist before and has also been responsible for developing individual education plans (IEPs) and behavioral plans. In addition to her skills at prioritizing and assessing a child’s needs, Rachel brings experience in creating and implementing differentiated accommodations for individual children. We are looking forward to Rachel’s guidance as we prepare to address, assess and plan for the needs of each camper who will join the CYJ community under this new initiative.
Summer camp is a life changing experience. While personal, interpersonal and life skills are taught at home and in school, in camp they are applied and incorporated into every part of every day. Campers realize that they can be independent, have a wonderful new experience and make their own friends. This experience yields a self-confident child. CYJ’s excitement about its inclusion program is palpable. Frank Silberlicht, Camp Director, who is enthusiastically welcoming this program in his 16th year as the camp’s senior leader explains, “I am looking forward to a wonderful summer of love, laughter and friendship at CYJ. An inclusion program teaches unity and acceptance. It builds strong friendships for years to come.”
If you are searching for an inclusive Jewish summer camp environment, we urge you to consider whether CYJ will meet your potential camper’s needs. Currently, CYJ’s program will be a good fit for children who can thrive in group setting, possess age appropriate self-care skills and who do not require one-on-one assistance. If you have questions about whether CYJ’s inclusion program is a match for your child, we encourage to reach out to Rachel so that you can assess whether our environment will be supportive for your camper.
CYJ believes that summer camp serves as a model community. CYJ strives to create empathetic children who possess a strong sense of social justice and who are committed to creating communities of respect. We believe that inclusion in our camp community will further this goal by allowing all of our campers to benefit from the diversity that is part of our Jewish world. CYJ prides itself on creating friendships over a summer that will last a lifetime.
Space is limited! Call us at 713-723-8354 or email [email protected] for more information.