Growing Up With Keshet Camps

by Marcia Grayson

Camp is where kids go “to be kids,” which is exactly what we wanted for Harrison.

Having an opportunity that neurotypical kids have to learn new skills and enjoy summer activities is what we always dreamed of. Harrison experienced those things and much more when he began at JCC’s Apachi Village with Keshet support at the age of four. Since then, we have been “hooked” on Keshet camps and so many of their other incredible programs.

Over the years, Harrison has continued through all the years of inclusion at the JCC Apachi Day Camps with Keshet and now with Camp Chi in Keshet’s Avodah program. Many of his counselors continue to be a part of Harrison’s life. They have joined us in celebrating birthdays, going out in the community to some of Harrison’s favorite activities, such as going to Noodles & Company, bowling, movies, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Ravinia Festival and much more. So many of his Keshet buddies have become his great friends, his extended family.

As Harrison aged, he transitioned to attending Keshet’s own camp program–Teen & Tween Camp–which allowed for an even more personalized experience. Harrison got to enjoy traditional camp activities as well as field trips, which allowed him to be out in the community and be exposed to new experiences. Keshet staff has always been able to problem-solve any challenges and work together for Harrison to be successful. This summer, Keshet is now expanding Teen & Tween Camp into three different camps–Camp Keshet North, Camp Keshet South and Keshet On-The-Go–that are all designed to best meet the needs and interests of families. We are looking forward to Harrison attending Keshet On-The-Go this summer, where each day will bring new adventures with field trips, volunteering, swimming, and traditional camp fun. With the support of Keshet’s dedicated team of staff, we’re confident that this will be another great experience for him.

In addition to Keshet On-The-Go, Harrison will attend his last year as a camper at Camp Chi this upcoming summer through Keshet’s Avodah program. Keshet has afforded Harrison the opportunity to learn to live away from home in a supportive environment. Harrison’s participation in Avodah has helped him learn life skills, vocational skills, social skills, as well as inclusion in many camp activities. It’s a bittersweet ending to an amazing 18 year journey with Keshet’s camps.

As Harrison embarks into the next chapter of adulthood, all the years of camp have helped him develop many independent living skills, reach goals and meaningful days and relationships. If camp is any indication as to what a future with Keshet will hold, we are more than optimistic about the incredible road ahead.

To learn more about Keshet’s camp programs and secure your spot for Summer 2024, go to

Collage of 9 photos of Harrison at camp programs through the years: with friends, staff and doing activities

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