While most people walk through a day camp and see the activities, campers and counselors, at Keshet, we see something more. Through our lens, day camps are outdoor, unconventional voc skills labs. There is endless work to be done every day, a socially engaged camp staff, possibilities for natural supports in job placements, and opportunities for recreation. This summer we are taking the first small steps to see how a formal voc program, in conjunction with Keshet’s day school, could work. Right now, there are three participants working, learning and doing necessary work at day camps. This includes a paid position as an art room assistant, a voc placement as “junior counselor,” and a programming volunteer.
Having a job and being relied upon to complete it leads to a sense of self-worth and pride. Working in a cooperative team environment, like a day camp, also increases opportunities for growth in social, communication and skills of daily living, all of which are critical for future employment and life success.
With this type of thinking, we have also opened the doors to have more teens volunteer at Keshet’s Teen & Tween Camp. A group of 7 friends—and same age peers to our campers—took part in the activities, modeled great social interaction and led some activities during the first four weeks of camp.