Beber Camp works hard to include campers with other abilities, various emotional and social needs, and differing gender identities. The safety of every camper, the impact on the broader community, and our resources play a major role in determining who we can support during the summer. There are limiting factors that impact our ability to be all-inclusive and the decision about whether any camper may enroll in and/or remain at camp is at the sole discretion of the Camp Director and Community Care Team. Writing a document which addresses our policies regarding the experiences that campers may have is difficult. We cannot possibly address every type of challenge that may arise or the nuances that exist. It is our goal to make camp successful for as many children as possible.
Beber Camp Statement on Mental, Emotional and Social Health (MESH)
Partnering and planning for a successful summer
Parents must inform the Director of Community Care about any significant MESH concerns during the enrollment process or as they arise any time prior to the start of the camp session. Parents should always err on the side of disclosure, knowing that we will maintain confidentiality and only share relevant personal information for purposes of supporting your camper during their time at camp. Once the summer season has begun, and a significant undisclosed issue presents, it is highly unlikely that a camper can be accommodated in a successful manner.
When significant MESH issues are disclosed before the summer, we will work with the camper’s family, pediatrician, and existing mental health team to evaluate if camp is the right setting for the camper and to create an action plan if it is determined that the camper should participate in camp. Our focus will be on the safety of the camper, the impact on the broader community, and whether the parents, mental health team, and camp staff reasonably believe, given our resources, that we can develop a plan that will ensure a successful summer. It should be noted that while we have mental health clinicians on staff for consultation, their role is not to provide individual therapy for campers.
General Concerns about MESH
- In evaluating if our resources may help a camper be successful and in order to determine our ability to develop a viable plan for the current summer, we focus on a camper’s well-being, their history, and any recent trends in their mental, social or emotional health. Some of the factors we consider include:
- How their overall progress has been going during the year.
- The timing of any significant events that have occurred.
- How the camp setting is similar or dissimilar to other situations, which may cause them stress.
- In evaluating what resources are available and the success of any potential plan, we also balance the impact on the broader camp community, which includes the amount of time and attention a counselor must give to an individual camper
- It is important to understand that when campers share their significant emotional concerns with other campers and camp counselors, that can place an undue burden on everyone involved.
How we may handle a variety of situations
Recognizing that each camper’s needs are unique, we look for indications that an individual camper will be successful in handling the vast majority of the camp’s day-to-day programming. If a camper cannot function in a percentage of the camp’s programs and/or requires intensive, individualized, one-to-one support to navigate each day, our resources may be unable to accommodate such a camper. It is important to know that while the way in which a situation has been handled in the past will likely inform us on how we handle that situation, it may not determine how that situation or a similar situation will be handled today or at some point in the future.
Below are some “common” MESH challenges.
- Social Aggression: This is never acceptable at camp and we define it as using one’s social and/or physical power to target someone else repeatedly. The Community Care team educates staff and campers in prosocial behaviors within the first few days of camp. The training is completed by having campers and staff sign the B’rit Kehillah (community contract), which addresses bullying and expectations for how we treat each other. We address behavioral issues by teaching missing social skills, empathy, and conflict resolution, and by partnering with parents and providing additional structure if needed. If behavior is repetitive with no improvement, the Camp Director and Community Care team reserve the right to send campers home and/or to not allow them to attend the next summer.
- Anxiety, Panic Attacks, or Depression: Many cases of campers with anxiety, panic attacks, or depression can be successfully managed at camp. Disclosing these issues prior to the start of camp is critical and allows our Community Care team to work with our staff to prepare them to respond appropriately. Sharing coping strategies and tools that have been successful with your camper enables our staff to work effectively and successfully with your child. In addition, we can provide opportunities for campers to take part in telehealth sessions with their personal therapist.
- Suicidal Ideation: Campers who express serious thoughts about hurting themselves usually cannot be accommodated at camp. The camper’s mental health team at home and the staff at camp must feel that a camper will be safe at camp. Campers who express serious thoughts about hurting themselves will be evaluated by our Community Care team with the help of the camper’s mental health team at home, if available. In most cases, camp will not be able to accommodate these campers and they will be sent home.
- Cutting: Campers may not cut at camp. Disclosing any history of cutting to Beber Camp is essential to the camper’s success during the summer. Recognizing there are different “types” of cutting with different risks, close consultation between the camper’s mental health team at home and the staff at camp is essential before camp to ensure that camp is a good choice for the camper. Campers who engage in cutting behavior for the first time at camp or have not disclosed previous self harm behavior will be sent home.
- Disordered eating: Sharing your camper’s history of disordered eating is essential to helping campers have a successful camp experience. While we are unable to monitor individual campers’ food consumption on a meal-by-meal basis, we can provide tentative camp menus, weekly weigh-ins, nutritional snacks, and access to speaking/video chatting with a therapist.
- A.D.H.D.: Many, if not most cases of campers with A.D.H.D. can be successfully managed at camp. Disclosing an A.D.H.D. diagnosis and discussing with camp staff before the summer will enable us to work with you and your child’s support team, to plan for a successful summer at camp. Medication vacations are highly discouraged. Camp requires focus and impulse control to maintain peer relationships and participate in the daily schedule. Please call the Director of Community Care about medication management at least two months before camp begins. Timely assessment will also allow us to decide which of our resources to utilize to support your camper including whether or not our inclusion program is indicated.
- Homesickness: It is normal for campers to experience feelings such as loneliness, sadness, and worry associated with missing their family and their at home routine, especially during the first couple of days at camp. Campers who are involved in the decision making process about choosing to come to camp are likely to feel more empowered to manage their homesickness. Campers who are being sent to camp by their parents and did not choose to come to camp are more likely to struggle longer and harder with homesickness.
- We expect that some campers will need extra support working through such feelings in the first few days. However, we also expect to see a positive arc of improvement as campers become more comfortable in the environment away from home and with daily camp routines.
- If you are concerned about potential homesickness, your child’s ability to independently manage their emotions, and/or your child’s capacity to settle into new routines, please contact the Director of Community Care.
- Refer to our Tips for Dealing with Homesickness for helpful information in preparing your child to successfully deal with homesickness.
Beber Camp Statement on Special Needs (YAD B’YAD PROGRAM)
The Yad B’Yad Program (referred to as “Yad”) is designed to provide life-changing experiences for campers ages 7-15 with learning, emotional, and developmental disabilities. The program is fully inclusive and campers live in a bunk with other campers in their age group. Yad campers may receive one-to-one staff support from counselors who receive intensive special training prior to the summer.
Acceptance into the Yad B’Yad Program:
Prior to accepting a camper into our Yad program, we systematically gather information from many sources (parents, school, home visits, professional therapists, etc.) in order to ensure that we can make inclusion in the program successful for the camper and for our camp community. We consider the social, emotional, and physical challenges that may be present and work proactively to accommodate special needs. Our ability to accept campers with special needs is determined by a number of factors, including space availability, staffing, ratios, facility, individual needs, and abilities.
Prior to acceptance at camp:
- Camp representatives (Director of Community Care, Inclusion Supervisor and/or a camp clinician) will e-mail, phone, and hold in-person meetings with the parent to screen potential needs.
- The Director of Community Care will review the camper’s individualized education plan (IEP).
- Camp representatives will establish contact with any outside providers to gather additional information.
- Camp representatives will evaluate whether a one-to-one aide is appropriate.
Skills required in order to be accepted into the Yad Program:
- Able to manage daily living activities with little to no support (i.e., showering, toileting, eating, etc.).
- Able to move over a variety of terrain including stairs, hills, uneven surfaces, etc.
- Able to sleep through the night alone in their own bed.
- Able to work with multiple adults if regularly assigned one-to-one is unavailable.
- Able to appropriately function with other campers and staff in close proximity.
- Able to regulate emotions and behaviors with support.
- Able to be successful with positive behavior supports and redirections.
Camp Experience for Yad Campers:
Upon acceptance into the Yad program
- Camp will personalize the camp program for the camper and will continue to work on their development goals from the school year as found in the IEP.
- The daily camp schedule will be sent to parents so that they can begin to pre-teach routines and prepare the camper for the camp experience.
Support during camp:
- Yad campers are enrolled as “rookie” campers for two weeks, with the option to extend to four weeks if recommended by the Director of Community Care after participation in camp for the first ten days. After each summer, the Director of Community Care, in consultation with parents, will determine if the camper should enroll in a two-week session or four-week session for the following summer.
- Yad campers will live in-bunk with appropriate age groups.
- Yad campers will participate fully in camp life to the best of their ability.
- Camp will make accommodations or modifications to camp life based on the child’s abilities and needs.
Participation in the Teen Leadership Program (TLP):
In most cases, participation in the Yad program ends after the Senior Ramot summer. Acceptance and participation into the TLP program is determined by the Director of Community Care.
Participation Beyond TLP:
In some cases, Yad campers may be able to continue at camp beyond the Teen Leadership Program. The specifics of their role at camp will be determined by the Director of Community Care in consultation with the parents.
Determining removal or partial removal of supports:
Yad campers who meet any of the following will participate in discussions with the Yad supervisor, parents and camp staff to discuss partial or full removal of supports. Final decision as to removing or partially removing supports will be determined by the Director of Community Care.
- Campers are able to be successful in hobbies without individual adult support and interventions. (Modifications may still be made.)
- Campers are able to move around the cabin and camp safely without individual adult support.
- Campers are able to follow the camp schedule and stay with their group without modifications.
- Campers are able to regulate their emotions and behaviors without individual adult support.
Beber Camp Statement on Gender Inclusivity
Beber Camp recognizes that gender exists along a spectrum and may change at any point in an individual’s development. For the purposes of this document, we define the following terms:
- Gender identity– is one’s own internal sense of one’s gender, whether that is male, female, neither or both.
- Gender expression – is how a person presents gender outwardly, through behavior, clothing, voice or other perceived characteristics. This is reflected in a society’s norms of what is masculine or feminine. This changes over time and varies by culture.
- Transgender – is someone whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth.
- Gender expansive – is a term used to describe those individuals who have a more flexible gender identity.
In order to support our transgender and gender-expansive campers and staff, Beber Camp acknowledges that the needs of transgender and gender-expansive participants are unique and should be treated individually and in consultation with the participant.
Beber Camp will honor pronouns requested by campers and staff and we will help other campers and staff learn the importance of doing the same.
Our cabin groups are separated by gender identity and grade level. Cabin assignments for living will be made in collaboration with the child and parent/guardian. We support and honor an individual camper’s self-identified gender. We encourage families to reach out to our Director of Community Care to discuss particular ways we can support their child while at camp.
Beber Camp ensures the confidential status of a camper, participant, or staff member’s gender status in accordance with applicable state, local, and federal privacy laws and will not disclose this private information. This means that we will not share a camper’s or staff member’s gender status with other campers’ parents.
If a child is transgender, staff will only know a child’s gender identity and will not be informed of the child’s gender assigned at birth, unless there are medical needs that specific staff need to be made aware of. Camp will work with the child’s parents to determine what information, if any, should be shared with staff.
If a camper begins exploring their gender identity while at camp, such as by using a pronoun or name that differs from their application name, camp will not notify parents or guardians without consent from the camper.
Camp also respects the privacy of our staff and will not inform parents or campers of a staff member’s gender assigned at birth.
Have more questions?
If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Community Care, Debbie Morris. Below you will find some helpful resources if you or your family members are in need of support. We do not endorse the organizations and you might find the information useful.
- CDC Mental Health Tools and Resources
- Resources for Suicide Prevention
- National Institute of Mental Health