Conscious party: Supporting summer camp for children with autism

SUMMER FUN: Children participating in the Jewish Community Center's Camp Tikvah and Camp Ruach soak up the vitamin D during one of nine week-long program sessions. Photo courtesy of JCC

WHAT: A benefit event for the Jewish Community Center’s Camp Tikvah, featuring Eleanor Underhill

WHERE: 5 Walnut

WHEN: Saturday, March 5, 6-9 p.m.

WHY: In addition to its other community happenings, the Jewish Community Center hosts summer camps for elementary and middle school youths (whether Jewish or not) as part of a mission to strengthen Jewish identity, celebrate Jewish culture and build community. Two such programs — Camp Ruach and Camp Tikvah — run concurrently at the center, though the latter is geared toward autistic children.

“Camp Tikvah enables children on the autism spectrum to enjoy the fun and community of Camp Ruach in an individually monitored and highly structured program,” says camp director Seth Kellam, noting activities like Shabbat and Havdalah song sessions, field trips, swimming, arts and crafts, and community-building lessons. At previous campers’ requests, individualized projects have involved bug identification, mosaics, wooden robots and fairy houses.

“Camp Tikvah campers spend the bulk of their time wherever Camp Ruach is at that time — camp rooms, the pool or our play field,” Kellam says. “If a Camp Tikvah camper is feeling overstimulated or needs to step away from the activity, we have a private space … that is filled with individually appropriate toys and activities. When ready, Camp Tikvah campers are encouraged to rejoin their Camp Ruach group.”

Though there is a fee associated with participation, the JCC holds an annual fundraiser to support programming and camp scholarships, which makes the opportunity more accessible. This year’s soiree includes live music by Eleanor Underhill and raffle prizes like Navitat ziplining passes, a group children’s cooking class and a two-night stay at the Renaissance Hotel.

Tickets ($25) include two drinks, two raffle tickets and food.  For more information and to purchase tickets, call 253-0701 or go to

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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