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Its not unusual for college students to spend a summer or two as camp counselors. You know the drill: sixteen-hour days, terrible food, and virtually no pay. But for four members of Browns most recent graduating class, this summers counseling experience had a different set of rewards.

The 600 children who attend Ramapo Anchorage Camp in Rhinebeck, New York, all have emotional or behavioral problems. Some have been seriously abused; others are hyperactive and overly aggressive or suffer from serious cases of attention-deficit disorder or autism. All of them, says camp director Bernie Kosberg, are simply very, very fragile.

These kids have an expectation of injustice, says Rachel Lissy 00, who is now an administrator at the camp. [Ramapo] is about trying to create a place for these kids where things make sense.

Lissy, along with Bess Massey 00, has been spending summers at the camp for the past six years. Three years ago they were joined by Liana Maris 00, and this summer Tom Gray 00 helped to make Ramapo an unofficial Brown affiliate.

Founded in 1922 by the Jewish Big Brother Association, Ramapo was originally intended as a summer escape for poor, orphaned boys. Since then the camp has evolved to serve children who would not do well at a more conventional summer camp. Every camper is referred to Ramapo by mental-health professionals, social workers, and social-service agents in New York City, and most of them have in fact never been outside its five boroughs. There is a waiting list numbering in the hundreds.

As in any summer camp, the children swim, play dodge ball, have ice-cream parties, and camp out overnight all while learning how to interact with one another. No deviant behavior a light push, a rock tossed, a curse is tolerated, and the campers are all taught to accept the consequences of their actions. Its an exhausting job, Lissy says, but the rewards are as bountiful for her as they are for the kids.

In her six years at the camp, Lissy has seen some of the same children return every year, and watching them change over time, she says, has been gratifying. It takes kids so long to believe that what we want is for them to not be in trouble, she says. Its amazing to be able, sometimes, for some children, to confirm the idea that the world could ever be fair.





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