Caption: Campers play baseball at Camp Jened.
The grounds of Camp Jened included a river, a lake with a dock for boating and places to row, swimming facilities, and a stream that was great for fishing.1 Camp Jened also had a large grassy field where campers and counselors gathered to play baseball.
The baseball teams were made up of campers and counselors with all different types of disabilities. But the game was designed to be accessible for everyone, with any modifications that players needed.2
Camp Jened’s whole facility was chosen and modified to be accessible for campers. The camp was on level ground, so it was easier for people in wheelchairs to move. Ramps were added and doors widened so that wheelchair users and people who used other mobility aids could enter. Paths were cut into the hillsides to allow all campers to get to the campsites.3 Camp Jened also offered physical, occupational, and speech therapies to support campers’ needs. Additional rooms were added for various therapies, and special equipment was purchased for these therapies and for accessible play.4
In the years before the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in many cases still today, schools didn’t and don’t provide opportunities for disabled children to participate in organized sports. Joining peers on the baseball field at Camp Jened brought joy and helped build community at the camp.5
New York Herald Tribune, “Camp Jened To Continue Treatments” [April 30th 1958], Collection of Honora Rubenstein. ↩︎
Dr. Jessica Murray and Jasmine Leiser, Zoom Interview with Jim LeBrecht, April 28th 2023 ↩︎
Jackie and Jeff Rubenstein, interviewed by Jasmine Leiser, March 29, 2023, via Zoom; Steven L. Sles, “A Haven for the Handicapped,” January 18, 1954, Collection of Honora Rubenstein; Jackie and Jeff Rubenstein, interview. ↩︎
Sles, “A Haven for the Handicapped”; Jackie and Jeff Rubenstein, interview;; Denise Sherer Jacobson, interviewed by Jasmine Leiser, April 4, 2023, via Zoom; Memorandum to Counselors, Collection of Honora Rubenstein; Crip Camp, directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham (2020: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham, and Sara Bolder), netflix.com ↩︎
Crip Camp, directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham (2020: James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham, and Sara Bolder), netflix.com; “Camp Jened—Real Camping for the Handicapped” (brochure), mid-1950s, Collection of Honora Rubenstein; Sles, “A Haven for the Handicapped.” For more photographs of Camp Jened, see Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht,N. The Camp That Ignited a Movement, Ford Foundation, August 5, 2020. https://www.fordfoundation.org/news-and-stories/stories/posts/the-camp-that-ignited-a-movement/. Unfortunately we are unable to identify by name the Camp Jened baseball players in this photograph. ↩︎
Date: Mid-to-late 1960s
Creator: Sheldon “Shelly” Koy
Source: Collection of Sheldon “Shelly” Koy
Copyright: Used with permission of Sheldon “Shelly” Koy
How to cite: “Baseball” by Sheldon “Shelly” Koy, n.d, in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/gallery/baseball.
Questions to Consider
- What do you see happening in this photograph? What feelings do you see expressed in the photograph? Why do you think this activity happened at Camp Jened?
- How do you think baseball or other games helped build community at Camp Jened?
- What are the activities that build community and bring joy, for you?
- Who has access to sports and play at your school?
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