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An Inclusive Community

By: Carly Weinstock, Camp Director

Tamarack Camps is dedicated to making camp available to all children and young adults. We understand that everyone needs different types of support, so we work hard to provide this to everyone. Besides the typical daily support we provide to each camper by having five social workers, three heads of side, other professionals, well-trained supervisors, and counselors working at camp, I am extremely proud to offer two impactful programs for children and young adults with special needs – Yachad and Avodah.

Yachad is our inclusion program for campers entering 2nd through 9th grade, where they are integrated in bunks with their own counselor who provides one-on-one support. The counselors are trained to support that child’s individual needs, while simultaneously working to help the rest of the bunk. Campers can participate in all activities at camp and if they need time away or extra time doing something, that counselor is there to help.

Avodah is for young adult participants that live together as a group, have work placements in the morning, including the famous “Dah Bucks,” a coffee shop where the Avodah participants make delicious treats and coffee to “sell” to camp staff. They then enjoy camp activities in the afternoon.

Our Director of Mental Health and Special Needs, Danielle Tagai, helps to oversee both programs during the off-season and directly works with our Yachad campers and staff during the summer. “Yachad allows campers that experience emotional, behavioral, or developmental disabilities the support to fully experience camp,” Tagai said. “Watching children thrive at camp is such a rewarding experience. Camp builds confidence, self-esteem, and independence. Avodah is the essence of what makes camp, Camp! Our participants are fully included in all camp experiences and bring true joy to camp.”

We are also lucky to have Lainie Sacks work during the summer to oversee Avodah.  “I’ve had the pleasure of working as an Avodah staff the past 3 summers at Tamarack, and it’s my favorite village,” Sacks said. “As a special education and accessibility educator in Birmingham Public Schools, inclusion is a priority for young adults with and without differences. One of the most important values we emphasize at Tamarack Camps is inclusion. At Tamarack Camps, every person is included in a meaningful, fun, and accessible camp experience. Offering programs and activities for all campers allows everyone to experience the joy of overnight camp and make lifelong memories.”

Tamarack Camps is a magical place for so many reasons and these programs are just two examples. We look forward to growing these programs even more and making camp a safe inclusive space for our community.