Ramapo empowers young people for lasting success • Brooklyn Paper

Ramapo empowers young people for lasting success

Teens learn about nutrition and cooking with staff assistance.
Ramapo for Children / Karen Pearson

Ramapo for Children is an organization that helps young people who face learning obstacles, including social, emotional, and cognitive challenges, by nurturing and supporting their success.

It helps young people learn to align their behaviors with their aspirations. It provides adults with a toolbox of strategies and techniques that enables them to promote positive behavior and to foster social and emotional skill development in young people. The organization equips school districts, administrators, and teachers with the practical tactics they need to create these positive environments.

As a result, safer communities are built, where people feel like they belong and are connected to others. At the heart of Ramapo’s work is the conviction that all children seek the same things: to learn, feel valued, and experience success.

Ramapo for Children began when Camp Ramapo was established in 1922 as an all-boys camp in the Ramapo Mountains. In 1923, the organization’s Rhinebeck campus property was purchased, and Camp Ramapo moved to where it is today — in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley region.

The camp expanded in 1956 when it became co-ed. It has continued to flourish over the years. Camp Ramapo still operates each summer. It is a residential program that welcomes more than 500 children every year. The camp is designed to support the unique needs of children ages 6–16 who have a broad range of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities. The programs there are designed to promote independence, self-confidence, and fun.

Camp Ramapo is offered only in the summer, but it feeds into the Ramapo Leadership Program, which is open to teen campers and young people from the community who can stay on campus one weekend per month, year-round, participating in skill-building activities that are centered on specific themes — including nutrition, navigating social situations, and stress management.

At the Rhinebeck campus, Ramapo for Children also offers the Staff Assistant Experience, a residential program designed to put young adults on the path towards independence by teaching them social, vocational, and life skills in a communal setting. Ramapo Retreats, another on-campus program, are full-day and multi-day teambuilding retreats designed to strengthen communication and trust among group participants. They are open to students in elementary through high school, as well as to school staff members, community groups, and colleges.

Since 2001, Ramapo for Children has expanded its offerings beyond the campus to include Ramapo Training, its professional development program that provides workshops, coaching, and technical assistance to educators, youth workers, and caregivers. It is widely utilized by schools, afterschool programs, and daycares. It offers restorative practices, behavioral management support, and more.

A Ramapo coach says, “Participants leave our workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions feeling more empowered because they come away with a concrete set of tools for promoting positive behavior, and strategies for creating focused, productive learning environments.”

Ramapo For Children estimates that it serves 500 campers; 200 camp counselors; nearly 30,000 educators, youth workers, and caregivers; almost 12,000 retreat participants; and 35 young adults transitioning to independence.

Ramapo For Children [49 W. 38th St. in Manhattan, (212) 754–7003, www.RamapoForChildren.org.] Open Mondays through Fridays, 9 am–5 pm.

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