Nysha Recent News

Camp Neshoma Ends Smashing First Session in Two Counties

Summer-camp-themed Respite Program in Orange, Rockland Educates, Amuses

August 27, '15

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Lively music, dancing, singing, arts and crafts, local outings and regional trips, swimming, water slides, clowns, carnivals, carnival trains and so much more. And that was just the first week!

It was the opening session of Camp Neshoma, Hamaspik’s spectacular summertime take on its ‘round-the-year After-school Respite (ASR) program.

That program, an indispensable staple and vital mainstay of the New York Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Hamaspik’s publicsector partner, pairs out-of-school children with professional caregivers during non-school times, allowing parents a much-needed and much-appreciated respite break.

The ASR program is held throughout the school year on school-day afternoons—and on nonschool days like winter or spring breaks, or summer vacation stretches, on full days during which local school districts do not have classes in session.

For Hamaspik of Orange County, then, that opening session ran from June 25 to July 5. And down at Hamaspik of Rockland County, the first session spanned June 21 through July 5.

Both programs are dubbed Camp Neshoma—giving each a summer-day-camped theme that lets “campers” feel very much a part of the surrounding mainstream community, a community now abuzz with exciting summer day camps all across their home neighborhoods.

At Hamaspik of Orange County’s Camp Neshoma program, ASR Coordinator Mrs. Tzippy Loeb and Director of Day Services Joel Glick and their professional and loving staff ensured that each day was chock-full of stimulating activities and healthy outlets for the kids with disabilities now out of school.

Each day had its own colorful and exhilarating theme, from a fun Clown Day and thrilling Fireman Sam Day to even Thomas the Tank Day and a decidedly “fishy” day featuring the famous Nemo.

On Fireman Sam Day, for example, the kids visited the Kiryas Joel Fire Department, where they got to safely clamber inside and on real (and really huge) trucks under careful safety supervision. Nemo Day had them engaging in a fishshaped- water-balloon fight, enjoying fish sticks for lunch, and even going home with their own live goldfish in their own fishbowls.

For Hamaspik of Rockland County, for starters, Camp Neshoma so far looks like coloring, painting, and an upstate trip to the Tarsio Lanes bowling alley in Newburgh.

According to Boys Division Coordinator Yitzchok Grunstein, though, the highlight of the first session by far was the spirited soccer match held with (not “against”) the boys of Camp Yachad, a community day camp.

Not only did Camp Neshoma emerge the victors, they did so by a 4-1 score! But the real winner was community integration. (See cover.)

As for the Girls Division, staff saw to it that the first session of Camp Neshoma was filled every day with healthy and stimulating activity. Under the leadership of Coordinator Mrs. Esty Schonfeld, who also tirelessly serves as Women’s Division Manager at the agency’s Day Hab, “campers” were treated to a salubrious regimen for nearly a week.

That activity culminated with a grand sing-along featuring the popular Mrs. Surie Levilev, a professional keyboardist and children’s entertainer known throughout the greater New York Orthodox Jewish community as Morah [Teacher—ed.] Music.

On Tuesday, June 30th at 11:30, the Hamaspik Terrace ballroom on Monsey’s Rt. 59 hosted Morah Music, along with the young ladies of both Camp Neshoma and the Women’s Division of the Hamaspik of Rockland County Day Hab program.

For a full hour, Mrs. Levilev led the dozens of participants through a series of songs that had them clapping and singing along, even spurring to their feet for a good round or two of happy dancing— reflecting not just the soul inside that makes everyone the same but also the accepting soul of Camp Neshoma.