URJ Kutz Camp offers a unique camp program for teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Gibush, which was previously known as Mitzvah Corps at Kutz, means teambuilding in Hebrew. The unique asset of the “camp within a camp” model is that motivated high school students serve as peer-engagers, which allows Gibush campers to participate fully in the Jewish camp experience in a safe and nurturing environment that fosters positive self-esteem and social skill development.
Gibush at Kutz offers a unique inclusion-based Jewish summer camping experience for teens (ages 13-19) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Gibush operates within URJ Kutz Camp, a Reform Jewish leadership program for high school students who are highly engaged teens within NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) and their home URJ congregations. The mission of Gibush is to honor the unique characteristics of every camper and provide access to Jewish camping by creating individualized accommodations and modifications that allow each camper to succeed. The unique feature of the “camp within a camp” model is that motivated high school students serve as “chaverim” (the Hebrew word for friend). In our model, the chaverim serve as peer-engagers to help Gibush campers feel comfortable, and also help to facilitate positive social connections with other teens in the Kutz community. This allows campers to participate fully in the Jewish camp experience in a safe and nurturing environment that fosters positive self-esteem and social skill development. Gibush campers have the opportunity to choose from a variety of Kutz activities based on their interests and skills.
The success of the program is due to careful planning for each Gibush camper, extensive parent and school input, staff training, chaver pre-training, ongoing chaver support, and twenty-four hour staff supervision. The most important component is the Kutz community’s dedication to include campers with Autism in all aspects of the greater camp community. Due to the individualized nature of the program, Mitzvah Corps is able to provide a safe, fun and appropriate camp environment for teens at virtually all levels of functioning on the Spectrum.
We hope your teen will join us this summer!
For more information please e-mail KutzGibush@urj.org. Please include all contact information and the best time to reach you.