Empowering Campers to Connect

One of overnight camp’s timeless traditions is writing letters home. This ritual has become so iconic that there are even books that compile kids’ actual letters to capture the shared childhood experiences of camp.

This ritual poses a challenge for many of the campers that Keshet supports. While some of our campers can compose a letter home, a traditional letter that needs to be written with complete sentences using a pen and stationery isn’t how our campers best express themselves. Yet, parents want to know what their campers are doing at camp and how they feel about the experience that isn’t filtered through staff calls, texts or emails.

This summer, we also wanted to empower campers to directly communicate with their families in the same way that generations of campers have done before them. To accomplish this, Keshet social worker, Jori Erlander, created a series of visual letters that allow campers to complete sentences by choosing pictures. Reading and writing sentences are not needed to tell parents about the weather, food, activities and special events of camp. She used traditional special education icons so the look and process would be familiar to many campers. For campers who enjoy writing or are working on reading/writing goals, a fill-in-the-blank letter that is specific to Camp Chi was created by Keshet’s Communications Team.

Photos of the visual letter and fill in the blank letter

Just a few weeks into camp, we’re already seeing the difference that these letters are making on the camp experience for the whole family. One mom received her first letter from camp after her child has been at Camp Chi with Keshet for five summers! Other parents have shared:

“Thank you. This is amazing. I can’t believe that he went to the waterpark.”

“This is absolutely amazing, You don’t know how much this means to us. Thank you.”

“Thank you so much for this. This made our day.”

Usually, when we think about inclusion at overnight camp, it’s the big things—sharing cabins, doing adventurous activities and making friends. But, as we see time and time again, it’s often the little things and small adjustments that make the camp experience accessible and meaningful for all.

Read the Keshet Chronicles

All Articles

Every gift makes a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.