Camp Living Wonders

Camp Living Wonders is the Southeast's only residential Jewish camp created for the empowerment, inclusion, and growth of children, adolescents and young adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Location: Atlanta , GA
Year founded: 2011


Camp Living Wonders is the Southeast’s only Jewish residential camp built for the empowerment, inclusion, and growth of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. This unique camp takes pride in providing an environment that helps our campers, ages 7-25, to develop increased confidence, independence and the ability to function happily and productively in the greater community.  Camp Living Wonders engages and serves people with cognitive and developmental disabilities including but not limited to Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, Fragile X, Tourette's Syndrome, PDD, NODD, LD/ADD/ADHD and Cerebral Palsy. The camp also offers a fully inclusive Staff in Training program, which places neuro-typical teens with older campers who are transitioning, training, and growing together to become the competent, well-trained, qualified staff of the future. Additionally, we offer our "Migdal Or" vocational program for adults with special needs employed by Camp Living Wonders. Camp Living Wonders is the ultimate Jewish environment that offers life skill development and opportunities to achieve and rise beyond the current level of limitations a child or adult may have, while developing the ability to replicate and share the experiences they had and life skills they developed at camp, as inroads to more communal life.  

Camp Living Wonders is passionate about inclusion, independence, and growth -- and about farming to create sustainable and earth-conscious, nutritious, healthy habits.  Camp Living Wonders finds its reason for being in providing a spiritually, emotionally, and physically safe, sound space where our campers, staff, and visitors can experience vibrant Jewish life and energy with a lot of soul, in an embracing environment like no other.  

Our camp is seeking opportunities to expand our training for adult staff, our farm-to-table program, our camper scholarship fund and our Staff in Training program to transition older campers to counselors; and to enhance our presence as a Jewish retreat center ad program center that is accessible, safe, vibrant, and wildly creative, while providing a LIVING Jewish environment filled with WONDERS. 

Training for Camp Living Wonders Staff


Camp Living Wonders’ program is the specialized
pre-camp training we provide to our teenage counselors and adult staff.

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

mission and purpose of our program is to teach approximately 60 staff members
staff members new methods that will allow them to empower campers to reach
their potential.

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Program Description

This year’s training session will last approximately 24 hours during
three days in the summer of 2016. (When we have sufficient funding and
availability at a camp facility, we plan to expand training to seven days.)
Staff members, including occupational and physical therapists and special educators,
will learn best practices for experiential Jewish camp from leading special
educators. We plan to bring professors of Special Education from University of
Florida’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders, as well as the University of
Florida’s department of Special Education, the head of the Broward County
department of Special Education, and Medical staff from Children's Healthcare
of Atlanta as well as Atlanta-based Shepherd Center. The beneficiaries include
not only the campers and the families to whom they return, but the staff, who
learn best practices that they can use long after they leave camp.  The presenters also benefit as they learn
from the staff they are training.

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Demonstrated Need

Working at a camp for high-functioning children and
adolescents with special needs presents very specific challenges – challenges
for which other camp experience, and even experience as a special educator does
not prepare a staff member. We have seen since we had our first camp session in
2012 that there is a great need for this training to make the CLW experience fulfilling
for everyone.

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Program Accomplishments

In terms of the training program, 100% of respondents
to our most recent survey said that the staff was well trained and competent.
Over 90% of parents said that their child is more confident and independent
after Camp Living Wonders. Almost 80% of respondents to this survey said that their
child feelsmore socially connected to other children and/or has
more friends following the camp experience.

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How do you measure the success of your program?

A survey developed by Linda Bloomberg,
Ph.D.,  a consultant specializing in evaluation and measurement, is sent
to parents after camp and yields feedback that allows us to strengthen the
program and enhance campers’ experience.
One of the survey questions relates to the staff. As noted above, 100% of
respondents to the survey responded to this question saying that the staff was
well-trained and competent. Based on the responses to these questions, we feel
our training is successful. Also, the following responses reinforce our belief
that our staff training is successful:

Over 90% of parents said that their child is more
confident and independent after Camp Living Wonders. Almost 80% of respondents
to this survey said that feelsmore socially connected to other children and/or has
more friends following the camp experience.

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