When is a concert not just a concert? When it’s a Mishkon concert, of course! Unlike any regular concert, when a band comes to Mishkon the campers are the stars. At a regular concert, everyone sits in the dark on cushioned seats. Not in Mishkon! Here the preferred seating for every child is high up on the shoulders of a counselor. Every second is filled with upbeat music and no one is excluded. Bound to a wheelchair? Not a problem; everyone forms a circle around campers who can’t dance, actively bringing them into the fun.
This is just some of the magic that lasts for six weeks every summer at Camp Mishkon, an overnight camp for children with special needs under the auspices of JBFCS. Counselors and other staff members work tirelessly to form bonds with their campers, bonds that last far beyond July and August. Many staff members invite their campers for to join them for a Shabbos and or even a Yom Tov. Then for one glorious Shabbos in the winter, the wonder of camp is relived at the Mishkon Shabbaton.
This year the shabbaton was held in February at the Raleigh Hotel. It was a great experience for all involved. Campers and counselors alike were excited to be together again. Families received a respite, and even while they missed their beloved children, they knew they are in safe hands. Every need, from special diets, to medical needs, to bedding arraignments was taken care of.
There is a saying that every child is a whole world. Nowhere is that more true than in Mishkon. Every single camper is given a chance to shine in his or her own special way. They each have individual attention that is impossible to get in the busy world, even from the most loving homes. But with a one-to-one ratio of campers to counselors, every camper is a complete, unique world, in the center of a wonderful universe of doting staff members.
To top off the amazing Shabbos, we were treated to one of Mishkon’s famous concerts. The vibes generating from the ballroom at the Raleigh left everyone, campers and counselors alike, charged up for the rest of the year until summer comes around again. When is a concert not just a concert? When it exists solely to fill up the world of one special child with love. One special child, and another, and another. When is a concert not just a concert? When it’s a Mishkon concert.
Shayna Goldstein is a staff member at Camp Mishkon and an eleventh grade student at TAG High School in Far Rockaway, NY.