A Day to Explore

Our summer intern, Stephanie Reynolds, has been chronicling her daily experiences at Camp Shutaf. A recent college grad from Toronto, Stephanie has been having a blast experiencing camp and inclusion the Shutaf way. Enjoy!

IMG_20150731_182637When I got to Camp Shutaf, I was told I had the option of joining a group of young campers or going on a scavenger hunt with the teen camper. I was a little hesitant to leave the camp location but thought a day out exploring would be fun. I’m very glad I made the decision I did, as I got the opportunity to see various sections of the municipality and learn about the history of the area. I got to see the Old City, and in particular the Armenian Quarter which I’ve never seen –  I was really excited and impressed. Thankfully, I was put in a group where the counselors spoke very good English. One of them even gave me a little history lesson about the Armenian quarter which I really enjoyed. Learning about the rich history of Jerusalem and the Old City would’ve been enough but I also got to relax in the shade while eating lunch and a popsicle.

Today was a very different day to my previous experiences at Camp Shutaf but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I wasn’t running around as much and wasn’t able to communicate as much with crazy actions during activities but I was still so pleased with how the day turned out. Now I don’t know what to do. Do I stay with little campers or do I mature up and go with the teens?

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The Best Part?

Our summer intern, Stephanie Reynolds, has been chronicling her daily experiences at Camp Shutaf. A recent college grad from Toronto, Stephanie has been having a blast experiencing camp and inclusion the Shutaf way. Enjoy!

IMG_20150731_182637Interning at Shutaf includes getting to work with many great people at an awesome organization. It’s also offered a combination of experiences, in particular, unpredictability and being flexible. Prior to starting at Shutaf I thought I’d be working on social media but have to come to realize my role is much more diverse than that. Every day you have no definitive idea of what will be asked of you or what you’ll be doing. This is not a bad thing in my opinion because it means you can look forward to every day being a new adventure. You can never get bored with repetition and at an environment such as summer camp being able to adapt is a good quality to have. Being flexible means getting to enjoy the short time you have with the kids that much more.

When I was told I would be going to camp, I figured I would just be on the sidelines, watching and observing. While I do end up doing that (my shyness always gets the best of me), I also get to interact with the kids – today, I got the opportunity to get involved with other activities. I made a  purse out of newspaper which was really fun, and I also had the opportunity to dance again.

The best part? Trying to improve my people skills. I am being forced to break out of my shell and talk to people. The language barrier makes it a little difficult but it is still really fun.

Even more so, I get to experience in a small way, what it is like having a disability in day-to-day activities. Not being able to join in an activity, or feeling left out of something, are experiences that everyone feels at some point but for people with disabilities, they face that exclusion every day. I know I’ll never be able to truly understand the struggle but being at Camp Shutaf is helping me learn. The unpredictability and flexibility required is all a part of this process. Even though I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing tomorrow, I’m still excited!

One Week Down…

Our summer intern, Stephanie Reynolds, has been chronicling her daily experiences at Camp Shutaf. A recent college grad from Toronto, Stephanie has been having a blast experiencing camp and inclusion the Shutaf way. Enjoy!

IMG_20150731_182637This week was absolutely fantastic! I got to pick up some new Hebrew words, make new friends and just have fun again. I recently graduated from university and am very stressed but working at Shutaf is a nice relief. Being someone one of the interns means I still have some responsibility which is nice, but I can still enjoy myself. Helping out when needed and getting to experience new things was very satisfying. I’m almost tears right now just thinking about how in a few weeks it’ll all be over but I’m also very thankful for this experience so far. Without even realizing it, Shutaf now has a special place in my heart and that thought just makes me really happy.

My First Day with a Group!

Our summer intern, Stephanie Reynolds, has been chronicling her daily experiences at Camp Shutaf. A recent college grad from Toronto, Stephanie has been having a blast experiencing camp and inclusion the Shutaf way. Enjoy!

IMG_20150731_182637Today was a very fun and different kind of day because it was my first whole day with the same group. The ages of the kids are around 8-9 years of age and were full of so much energy. It felt nice to finally have a specific group to be with because it allowed me to bond more with those kids and the counselors. I also got the opportunity to experience a broad range of activities with the same group which made it possible to see the different sides of the kids.

There a few extra special moments today one of which was when one of the kids leaned on me and held my hand while we were in a session with animals. I always heard that children have the best intuition and judgement of character and for a child who doesn’t even know me to trust me like that was very heartwarming. Throughout the day kids were asking me for help and coming up to me which was also a great feeling.  Another fun activity with the kids was when we got to play outside with bubbles. We were playing together and I got to take some awesome pictures. Seeing the smiles on the children was very satisfying. To have children respect me but also enjoy my company without us even really speaking to each other is simply another heartwarming moment.

Campers and counselors alike were engaging in conversation with me and I think it was then that I started feeling really good about the day. Getting to know a few of the counselors was also really great because it allowed me the opportunity to bond with people around my age and I also got to learn a little about life in Israel and at Shutaf. Making new friends is sometimes difficult for me but being with this group at Shutaf was pretty fantastic. Once again there was the obvious language barrier but when you are around certain individuals for a certain amount of time you start to build a great relationship!

Shutaf Camp Day 1 – From Joelle Lang

Stepping through the open doors of Camp Shutaf is like entering into a whole new world. Shutaf is a world filled with laughter and playfulness and love.  A world that brings about smiles and glowing faces, created for the sole purpose of spreading happiness.  Everywhere campers pile onto their beloved counselor’s backs, and make themselves at home in their counselor’s laps.   The joy overcomes you and inspires you to find a way to pay forward the warmness that surrounds the camp.

The best way to describe the Avatiachs, or “Watermelons,” (one of the Shutaf camper groups), and that includes the counselors, is that they are overflowing with energy.

A day in the life of an Avatiach:

After proudly chanting their bunk song in front of the other groups in camp, the overjoyed Avatiachs begin their day by receiving jobs.  Each camper receives a responsibility for the day, which they proudly wear as watermelon-shaped necklaces, ranging from “giving out cereal” to “making sure no one complains.”  The Avatiachs work as a group, each camper is a cog in the wheel that keeps the bunk running.

The first activity of the day was Sport. The sports counselor began with stretches followed by a game of hopping on circles and throwing a soccer ball into a hoop.  The cheers of the Avatiachs could be heard across the camp.

The hot, red-faced Avatiachs then headed to Art.  The minute the highly energized Avatiachs entered the art room they were overtaken by the calm aura of the art instructor.  They made people, animals and stars that were attached to boards making their works of art pop up when pushed down.  The concentration and creative vibe in the art room were clear on the Avatiachs’ faces.

Afterwards, the Avatiachs and all their energy took their lunches outside to the big playground where they swung on swings, climbed ladders and slid down slides.   It was incredible to watch them help each other navigate through the playground tower.

The last activity and perhaps the most exciting was Animals. The campers listened carefully as the animal-activity staffer described the differences between people and animals, and shrieked loudly when he put a goose on the floor for the campers to pet.  The goose did not stay for long.  The campers did however have a lot of fun passing around and giving names to different types of hamsters and rabbits.

The Avatiachs are a fantastic group!  The campers were so kind and excited to be with each other, it did not appear that any camper could possibly feel left out.  In other words, the Avatiachs are like one big, happy family.

After a camp day filled with one fun activity after another, if all the Avatiachs don’t collapse on their beds when they get home, I can definitely assure you their counselors do.