by Allie Rosen, Rosh Atzmayim

It has been a wonderful week up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin! Our Atzmayim, eleven participants ages 18-22 in the Tikvah Vocational Program, have been busy building friendships, developing social skills, and exploring new interests here at camp. It’s hard to believe that we already celebrated our second Shabbat together.


There were many highlights this past week for the Atzmayim participants. Everyone continues to work hard at their job sites. Our participants have been receiving high praise from their supervisors with each participant increasing their responsibilities at work as they get more comfortable at work. New responsibilities include bagging groceries at Trig’s, bagging toys at Grandma’s Toy Box, restocking returned items at Ace Hardware, labeling coffee bags at Roaster’s Coffee Shop, special projects at the Children’s Museum, and working with visitors at Hiawatha Inn. We are really looking forward to all the progress we still have to make over the rest of the summer.

Last Wednesday was our first day off in Eagle River! Two participants took responsibility for planning a super fun day for everyone. We started our day with a trip to Shopko to purchase necessities like watches, water bottles, and laundry detergent for those that needed. After that we spent a sunny afternoon at Silver Lake! We ate a delicious lunch, played cards, read books, called home, and enjoyed each other’s company on a beautiful day. Our afternoon was topped off with a trip to Dairy Queen and seeing Cars 3 at the Vilas County theater! I think everyone had a great day hanging out and reenergizing for the rest of the week at work.

We have been busy with activities around camp too! On Monday night we did our first cooking club! Everyone made their own pizza, washed fruit, and practiced washing dishes. Tuesday was the kick off of our weekly film club. We watched the movie “Horton Hears a Who,” and had a mature discussion about the meaning of empathy and friendship afterwards. Everyone has taken their swim tests, and we enjoyed swimming together in Lake Buckatabon! On Thursday, we spent the evening playing board games and icebreakers with other staff members that do not live in cabins. We are excited to start eating meals with them everyday and continuing to strengthen these friendships.

Shabbat this week focused on self-worth and self-advocacy. The staff worked hard to develop fun and creative activities for participants to reflect on their strengths and support each other with skills they need to work on.

Continuing its ongoing support of Ramah’s vocational programs, the Ruderman Family Foundation has granted $150,000 over three years for vocational education initiatives at Ramah California, Canada, New England, and Wisconsin, and to encourage voc ed inclusion programs at other Ramah camps.