This summer, with the help of Skilled Volunteers for Israel, I had the opportunity to work at Camp Shutaf, an inclusion camp for kids with special needs.
A few things struck me right away. It is well-organized like an American camp, but the staff is also able to go with the flow very well, which I feel is specific to Israel. Their approach is also very unique. They prepare the staff for the strengths and weaknesses of each camper, but don’t focus on the campers’ diagnoses. In this way, the approach is about communication and hands-on experience instead of textbook theories. And the community is wonderful. The counselors are empathetic, flexible, patient, and intelligent and the campers are inclusive and eager to have fun with one another.
I learned a lot during the three-week camp. It was short, but intense! I had to adapt to going with the flow more than I usually do. Since I was a volunteer, I was put with different groups every day, depending on who needed an extra hand. It was difficult to switch around, but also enlightening to observe the dynamics in each group.
I also directed my first ever drama sessions in Hebrew! I was nervous that the activities wouldn’t go well because I wouldn’t explain them well enough, but with the enthusiasm of the campers and some help from other counselors, it went extraordinarily well.
Camp Shutaf was a wonderful way to spend the end of my summer, and I am incredibly grateful to SVFI and Shutaf for the opportunity!
New York, NY