My summer with Camp Sdei Chemed by *Josh

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Below is a beautiful letter from one of my campers who is diagnosed with ASD. For more background information and a letter from his mom read the article “Autism Awareness, Camp S’dei Chemed Style!”

When I went to Sdei Chemed international, I was given a warm welcome, greeted with the friendly faces of the campers and counselors, even though I joined later in the session. Dovid [Teitelbaum] himself is a great guy. When I applied for camp, he saw me as one of his campers immediately, and the staff had put aside all preconceived notions of me, since I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). On the night when I arrived, everyone was friendly, warm, interesting, and well humored. On the first night I was there, we had a tish and zemirot with my bunk leader and bunkmates.
The most fun and inspiring things I did at Camp included Shabbat in Jerusalem, the hike on Har Sodom, scuba diving and the aquarium in Eilat, and the journey on Ben Yehuda St.
In Jerusalem, we went to Kabalat Shabbat at the wall. It was one of the most inspiring events in my life. Everyone in attendance was dancing and singing so loudly and energetically, they put new years in Times Square to shame. It didn’t matter who you were, you were dancing. The next day, we went to Shul, and I walked with a few others and saw various religious sites. I led Shabbat mincha that afternoon.

We spent about a week in Eilat, first stopping at Har Sodom. The beginning of the hike didn’t seem so exciting, but as we got higher, the terrain was some of the roughest I had ever walked upon. I used to hate hikes, but this time, I enjoyed being that high up, as if I were at the world’s pinnacle. The terrain was unpaved, untamed, and virtually unexplored. I wouldn’t have finished it if it weren’t for the encouragement of A.J. and others. Next time I get the chance, I want to do that again. The next day, we arrived in Eilat. First, we went to the aquarium. All the fish, especially the gigantic, awesome, silver skinned sharks, impressed me. I was also impressed by the view underwater, and the spectrum of colors that were the many species of fish. Then we went on a boat into the middle of the sea, and jumped into the water. We were jumping on a trampoline in the middle of the Red sea. Finally, we went scuba diving. I was enthralled by the experience. The view of the fish in the aquarium paled in comparison to seeing them in real life. One thing that stuck out in my mind was the out of place office cubicle frame under water, as if  the fish needed an office cubicle.
During the last few days of camp we stayed home, except for an excursion onto Ben Yehuda St. I was disappointed to have to leave the camp, especially because I didn’t want to part with any of my friends at Sdei Chemed, who had been really personable, fun, interesting, and humorous.
That’s my Sdei Chemed story, and if I ever get the chance to go to Sdei Chemed again, I definitely will.  Thank you to Dovid; R’ Adelman; A.J. Esral; Shloime, Dovid, and Binyomin Schwartz; and last but not least, my fellow campers. Without you, I wouldn’t have done anything nearly as interesting as we did together.
*Name Changed

Also, a letter from his mom read the article “Autism Awareness, Camp S’dei Chemed Style!”

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  • DovidTeitelbaum

    Josh, you added so much to camp. You have an awesome personality and a great heart. It was great spending the summer with you!

  • michael

    Wow Josh this brought back so many good memories of an unforgettable summer!!!! Thanx for reminding us what an awesome time we had and thanx for adding so much to camp!!!!! So…. EVERYBODY! JOSH JOSH JOSH JOSH JOSH

  • Fellow Sdei Chemeder

    You rock Josh!!!! I look back on my summer and I think about the impact that you had on me just by being in camp. I look back and I think about your amazing kabbalos shabbos, your participation in our crazy shabbos zemirot and I say “wow” what an awesome guy. Josh, you are a someone who wasn’t afraid to be himself when many others might have felt uncomfortable to do so; and you know what, everyone loved you for it. Keep on rockin’!!