The other day, Matan Koch visited Crane Lake to ignite a fire for inclusion. Matan strives to spread knowledge about inclusion and aims to teach people about disabilities. He came to share his powerful personal stories and leave a mark on the campers and staff. Despite all the obstacles he faced, he always found comfort at camp and at NFTY. He first spoke to the Crane Lake community as a whole. He allowed campers to ask any questions they might have, such as “who is one person from camp that has impacted you the most?” or “what was your favorite activity as a camper?” Matan opened Crane Lake’s eyes to disabilities, but also showed us that disabilities can also be an ability. Just because you are restricted in one way, doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in many other areas. After speaking to Crane Lake as a whole, he spoke to Upper Chaverim and Olim in smaller groups. During this discussion, Matan had the opportunity to share more personal stories and also encourage campers and staff to share their own stories and experiences that involve inclusion. Campers and staff shared stories about family and friends with Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s and many other difficult challenges one may face. The support and comfort in the room was astonishing. Campers felt comfortable and safe sharing some of their most personal stories with their bunkmates and friends. Matan made it a point that although one may have disabilities, there are always thing they can still do and succeed in. Matan did a brainstorming activity with Olim and Upper Chaverim. He had the campers and staff come up with ways CLC can become a better place for people with disabilities. Everyone came up with some great ideas to strengthen our community!
By Lindsey Blackman, Communications Specialist