The National Ramah Commission has released the results of a new strategic planning survey conducted to document the impact of Ramah special needs programs. Ramah’s leadership in the field of Jewish special needs camping dates back to its first Tikvah program in 1970, the first program of its kind. Today, all eight Ramah overnight camps and three Ramah day camps offer programs for families and children with disabilities.

The following is a summary of the major findings of the strategic planning survey:

Ramah’s Reputation

  • Over 90% of experts, parents, staff and staff alumni respondents would strongly recommend the program when asked about sending a child to a Ramah special needs program.
  • 90% of parents who are familiar with other camps regard Ramah as providing better programming in comparison to other camp programs.
  • More than 90% of parents hold Ramah special needs staff in high esteem, finding them hard working and nurturing.
  • Three-quarters of professionals regard Ramah as a pioneer in the field and as continuing to set industry standards.

Access to Jewish Education

  • 79% believe that it is difficult gaining access to a meaningful Jewish experience due to their children’s disabilities; 83% feel their children gained meaningful exposure to Jewish community at Ramah; 58% feel their children gained meaningful exposure to Jewish ritual
  • 32% report that their children have been turned away from another Jewish program or institution due to their disabilities
  • 22% note financial assistance was a condition for them to send their children to a Jewish camp

Impact on staff and other campers

The impact of camp extends to special needs program staff and to campers who interact with campers with disabilities, influencing the choices they make in life:

  • 55% – Philanthropy
  • 53% – Volunteer work
  • 41% – Professional work and career choice
  • 32% – College or graduate school coursework

This includes a wide range of personal and professional benefits:

  • 95% – gained awareness of issues having to do with inclusion of individuals with disabilities
  • 87% – gained a sense of responsibility for others
  • 84% – became more patient with others

The complete report can be accessed here.

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