Editor's Note: We are delighted to share this blog, written by one of the participants in Ramah New England's Vocational Education program about her experiences.

My name is Gabriella Levi. I am 20 years old and this was my first summer in the Vocational Education program at Camp Ramah in New England. I am currently a student at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. I am studying to work in a preschool.

What I loved about Voc Ed was learning to be independent. I liked that I was treated as an adult more than a camper. For example, at Ramah I had a lot of choices for how to spend my time.

I got to choose how to exercise and how to spend my free time. The advisors always helped me and pushed me to grow. This summer I learned to take better care of myself and make my bed. I also learned to be more social and I made a lot of new friends. I learned new Hebrew words that I never knew before. The skill I am most proud of learning at camp is advocating for myself. When something was bothering me, I learned how to deal with it and speak up instead of just getting frustrated. I am very proud that I learned to advocate at camp, and took this new skill home with me.

My job at camp was working in the bakery. I liked working in the bakery and learning new skills. Some of the skills that I learned were measuring ingredients, using the oven, using a sharp knife, and washing dishes. I learned how to bake by myself, and I cannot wait to bake independently when I live on my own. Voc Ed is very important because you learn about working and you have independence that you can take home with you.

I miss camp a lot during the year. I miss working in the bakery and I miss my advisors, but what I miss most is socializing and having fun. I especially miss Shabbat buddies, when we get to spend time with staff from around camp. Since I got home from camp I have been using some of the cooking skills I learned at camp. I have a cooking class at school, and we practice some of the same skills that I learned at camp. I really feel that I achieved so much at Camp Ramah this past summer, and I look forward to growing more in future summers.

The Voc Ed program is one of the Ramah New England’s Tikvah programs for campers with disabilities. Learn more: read the Ramah New England blog and view the Voc Ed video.

Funding for these efforts has been provided by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Nancy and Fred Poses, the Ruderman Family Foundation, Diane Lipson Schilit and Howard Schilit, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs of New England and Connecticut, and the Sisterhoods of Temple Shalom in Salem, MA and B’nai Israel in Rockville, MD.