ATLANTA, March 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer camp – and all the excitement of swimming, campfires and color war -- is a happy rite of passage for many children. But for those with developmental disabilities such as ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, Fragile X, Down's Syndrome, Sensory Integration Disorder and other issues, the idea of sleep-away camp can seem daunting, petrifying, even impossible.
"My son can't tolerate noisy environments and he hates sports. All he wants to do is talk about Pokemon day and night. Plus, he's an incredibly picky eater. How could I send him to camp?"
"My daughter is a sweet, sweet girl but she has just never been able to make friends. She wants friends but she doesn't have the social skills to keep up. She's anxious about sleep-away camp and so are we. I'm afraid even the nicest girls at most camps could eat her alive."
Camp Living Wonders offers a safe, loving overnight camp experience for high-functioning Jewish children, ages 7-25 years old with developmental disabilities. The camp accepts all Jewish children, regardless of affiliation or background, and has campers from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and Louisville, as well as from Lakewood, Crown Heights, and Monsey.
Camp Living Wonders nurtures campers' individual growth and achievement, as well as a love of Judaism and nature. Camp changes lives by giving campers the opportunity to develop deep friendships and have exciting experiences they may never have known.
Camp Living Wonders founder and director Noah Pawliger says, "We are dedicated to providing children with special needs exciting and empowering new experiences with appropriate caution. Our highly trained staff members are all first aid and CPR-certified and includes doctors and nurses, as well as people studying to be Occupational Therapists, Special Education teachers and counselors. Our staff to camper ratio is an impressive – and we believe necessary -- one to one."
Challenged by his hearing impairment and learning disabilities, Noah Pawliger has successfully leveraged his strengths to inspire young Jewish people to overcome limitations and labels, and to bring wonder to their lives. A life-long nature lover, Noah studied recreation management in college, and is a believer in the philosophy of differential learning. In addition to founding Camp Living Wonders, Pawliger is the co-creator of a National Birthright Israel program for young adults with special needs, now in its tenth year.
Camp Living Wonders is currently located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, at Camp Arrowhead, and is searching for a permanent home. This beautiful campsite sits on close to 200 acres of rolling hills, woodlands, waterfalls, streams, meadows and trails for campers to explore, camp and ride. Camp Living Wonders offers many therapeutic activities including horticulture therapy, aqua therapy, water aerobics, karate, dance, music and art. Personalized for campers of all abilities, the goal at Camp Living Wonders is to get kids moving and having a great time through sports like gaga (Israeli volleyball), basketball, soccer, tennis, karate and Zumba. Healthy competition, teamwork, skill building, self-discipline, fitness and sportsmanship are among the outcomes each camper experiences.
Many children with special needs have special diets, which is something Camp Living Wonders understands and accommodates. With an organic farm-to-table approach to dining, campers get involved through activities like tending and cooking vegetables from Gan Gedolot, the camp garden. Mealtime is fun and occasionally boisterous – a time to see other campers and enjoy and bless delicious food together.
Campers enjoy pancake breakfasts and omelets made with eggs they have gathered from the farm. Shabbat dinner is a three-course feast that features camper-made challah and a traditional Shabbat menu with some awesome twists.
"We have so many kids who come to camp as 'noodles only' or 'cereal only' kids," said Chanie Pawliger, co-director of Camp Living Wonders. "After fun and therapeutic activities in our garden and kitchen, even the most sensory-challenged kids are willing to try experiment with new textures and new flavors. We don't label anyone a 'picky eater.' We understand the source of food issues and, while we accommodate needs and preferences, I am proud to say we have had great success helping children overcome some of the obstacles they face. Everyone goes home with new favorite recipes and a greater appreciation for the land, the spirit, and yummy, nutritious food."
Camp Living Wonders is accepting applications for campers and staff for Summer 2015. For more information, please visit www.CampLivingWonders.org or call the camp office at (678) 888-2259.
Judy Tashbook Safern or Noah Pawliger
SOURCE Camp Living Wonders