Participant Perspectives: Sierra Debrow on the Mitzvah Corps Major

Participant Perspectives: Sierra Debrow on the Mitzvah Corps Major

By: Sierra Debrow, Participant from Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Charleston, SC (NFTY-SAR)
As a third year participant at the URJ Kutz Camp, I thought that I had experienced everything that there was to experience. I had led services, recorded in the soundproof studio, and learned all about TYG Leadership. There was, however, one thing I had left to experience – Mitzvah Corps. Mitzvah Corps is an unique three week major that allows teens to become friends and mentors to teens on the Autistic Spectrum and to create an inclusive environment as these teens join the rest of the participants.Two years ago, I met one of my best friends through Kutz. Since then, I’ve wanted to be involved as much as I can. As my TYG’s Social Action Vice President last year, I thought I was bringing a lot to the Mitzvah Corps table. Instead, I am taking more back to my community than I ever thought possible. Mitzvah Corps is about a lot more than providing a Jewish camp opportunity to teenagers who might otherwise be denied one.

Instead, it is a chance to learn about yourself and become an advocate for the things you believe in. In my major, we discussed different ways to contact state assemblymen, senators, and congressmen. We took note of the spaces we were occupying, and how they were or were not accessible to people with physical or developmental disabilities. And most importantly, we made friends with some amazing participants who were some of the happiest, most energetic people I’ve met in my life.Before camp, I had a hard time believing that this summer would impact me in the same way that my first two summers did. However, as the summer of 2011-5771 reaches a close, I have to say that being a Kutz Camp participant has changed me for the better. I hope to bring the lessons of advocacy, acceptance, and inclusivity back to my synagogue, and encourage everyone that comes to Kutz to do the same. Kutz is not only about the song sessions and friendship circles, the torah readings and the fantastic majors, but about being comfortable in your own skin and discovering all sorts of things along the way.