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The Mitzvah Corps major at Kutz gives you the opportunity to mentor Jewish teens living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior to the Tzofim (teens with ASD) arriving at camp, the mentors get to know each other, receive training, and learn about the nature of ASD through presentations and popular media. Once the Tzofim arrive, Mentors spend a portion of their day with them, helping these teens to have an amazing Jewish camp experience. Some activities you may be doing with the Tzofim include: morning and bedtime rituals, meals, electives, art, games, movies, swimming and song session. Mentors will always be accompanied by professional Mitzvah Corps staff while spending time with the Tzofim, but part of what makes this program so unique and wonderful is that the Tzofim are able to spend time with Jewish teens their own age. During the later part of camp, mentors will have the opportunity to work on a group project that focuses on sharing your experience with your community and raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What Topics Will We Explore?  

As a participant in the Mitzvah Corps major at Kutz, you can expect to learn about a variety of different topics that will help you in your position as a Mentor.  Here are some of the topics that we explore during the major:

  • The characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • What it is like to live with ASD
  • How to work with the Tzofim and be comfortable in the mentor position
  • Tikkun Olam
  • Basic counseling and relaxation skills
  • What you can do in your community, TYG, region, etc. to raise awareness about ASD.

As a participant in this major, I can expect...  
  • An intense, but truly valuable and rewarding experience both from the relationship that you develop with the Tzofim and the relationship that you develop with the other mentors.
  • A completely new understanding of people living with developmental disorders such as ASD.
  • Lots of FUN! -Because the program can be intense, we ensure that the mentors get opportunities to relax and have fun…in addition to the plethora of fun you’ll already be having at camp! (Last summer’s mentor stress-relief activities included a giant shaving cream fight!)
  • A slightly larger time commitment, because of the time spent with the Tzofim, then with other majors.
My Story  

"On the day the tzofim arrived, I was late to majors and everyone had already paired with a tzofim but there was one boy left alone in a corner. I went up to him and proceeded to make conversation for an hour without him taking interest in me. I was getting frustrated so I just decided to list all my interests to him, thinking he might take interest in at least one. The last thing I said was, "I also like to play computer games online." His before dull eyes lit up and asked me my favorite game, which turned out to be his favorite game too! From then on, I was his safe zone and we had made a solid connection." 
-Candace Elmquist, NFTY-GER

"Watching the mentors grow personally and Jewishly from their experience spending time with the Tzofim was truly astonishing. There is no other program like this, and I wish that there were more, because it was clear from last summer that it benefited the mentors, the staff and the Tzofim in a truly magical way."
-Samantha Dresser,
Program Director - Mitzvah Corps @ Kutz

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In Their Own Words  

"Mitzvah Corps was awesome. The time I spent with the Tzofim was so much fun. We got to play, learn, grow, and make memories together.  These kids taught me how much better life is when you just slow down.  Even if it doesn’t seem like the program is Tikkun Olam, we were really repairing the world. We were repairing the worlds of all of the kids we met."
-Maddie Shaner, NFTY-MV

Mitzvah Corps Major Spotlight: What Mitzvah Corps Means to Kutz Participants
Although participants in the Mitzvah Corps Major are referred to as mentors, the true focus of the time we spend together is on how to interact on a peer level with fellow teens who have Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Look Back at 2011 with Mitzvah Corps Participants
Teen participants in the week long Mitzvah Corps program reflecting on the past summer.

Participant Perspectives: Emily Horowitz on the Mitzvah Corps Major

Participant Perspectives: Jennifer Gibson on Mitzvah Corps

Participant Perspectives: Sierra Debrow on the Mitzvah Corps Major

Did You Know?  
  • Participants get the opportunity to mentor and really get to know teens their own age living with Autisim Spectrum Disorder.
  • Mitzvah Corps is amazing on a resume both for community service and experience working with developmental disorders.
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