The JCC MetroWest began a one-of-a-kind day camp for special needs students this month.
The Jewish community center is touting its new EC + Me day camp as the only special needs day camp inclusion program of its kind in the suburban Essex area.
Campers with special needs are attending this parallel program to Exploration Campus (EC) at the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC in West Orange for four themed weeks. They are enjoying a summer camp experience while receiving the support and modifications they need to make each day a success.
The program launched on August 5 for campers in grades K-6.
“These are children who would have great difficulty succeeding in the Exploration Camp program, even with a shadow counselor, but who will enjoy the flexibility of a smaller, parallel program which coincides with mainstream Exploration Camp activities,” said Rebecca Gallanter, Director of Special Needs Services, JCC MetroWest.
anticipate that the program will grow quickly next year due to the complete
shortage of day camp programs for this population.”
EC + Me runs for four weeks through Aug. 23. It offers support, socialization, and stimulation after school programs are finished and allows parents to maintain their daily work schedule.
Parents have been supportive and enthusiastic about the new camp.
“Prior to discovering JCC MetroWest, we had found there to be a paucity of social and community opportunities for our child," said one parent. "While other neighborhood children left each day to enjoy camp, until this year at the JCC, options remained limited for a summer camp for our child to experience.
"A very natural environment for inclusion is provided, with many fun activities including games, swimming, music and art. The staff is experienced, flexible, interactive, friendly, and attentive."
Additional JCC MetroWest programs for children with special needs include Camp Friends at Camp Deeny Riback in Flanders and inclusion opportunities at Early Childhood Camps in West Orange. Sunday afternoon respite is also offered during the summer.
For more information about JCC MetroWest day camp programs for individuals with special needs, call Rebecca Gallanter at 973-530-3478 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.