Yesterday, I embarked on my third Kids4Peace summer camp. Three years ago, I began the journey with the 8th grade Roots program at Kibbutz Ketura after spending the year as their Jewish advisor. Last summer, I went to Washington D.C. with the same group of then 9th graders, and this summer, I am joining camp as the social media coordinator/blog writer/parent updater/support advisor.
Yesterday morning, I boarded the bus with the Roots (8th grade) group which included 18 youth, three staff members, and four counselors. Plus: a medic, a bus driver, and Daniel Sherman, our guide and camping expert and founder of Yuvalim, an organization which uses nature and adventure to connect Israelis and Palestinians interested in building peace and creating a shared society.
Our first stop was a hike on Mt. Carmel. During the hike we stopped at several caves, learning about the different groups of people that had lived there over the centuries, and looking at the ocean view, noticing the Atlit island on the water, a Crusader fortress which was built in 1218. Once we stopped for lunch, the youth broke out into smaller groups and talked about their expectations for the camp, something their friends didn’t know about them, and what they were looking forward to that day. Using teamwork and communication, they built a machine, miming all the different activities they were looking forward to, and played some other team-building games.
Once we arrived at the beautiful campground on the beach, the youth set to work making camp. They began building their tents, setting up supplies for cooking dinner, laying out mats for us to sit on, and of course enjoying the water. After setting ground-rules and going over the schedule, we began with tie-dying shirts, and then cooking as a group, while watching the sun set into the ocean. The youth set up candle lanterns around our camp so we could see once it got dark, made the salad, cooked the barbecue, and after dinner, helped clean up and then enjoyed s’mores around the campfire. The group went to sleep in their tents, on the sand, hearing the waves, underneath the stars.
This morning, there were three different activities; kayaking, hiking and Budo for Peace (an organization which uses traditional martial arts to connect and bring together children and youth from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds). All the activities were very fun, educational, community and team-building experiences, which the youth loved. In the afternoon, after packing everything away, everyone got back onto the bus and headed to Nes Ammim, where the 6th, 7th and 8th graders will be for the next 3.5 days. In the closing the day circle this evening, the 8th graders talked about how much they loved the experience of hiking, kayaking, of being outdoors, working together as a group to cook and organize their makeshift home, of swimming in the ocean, and of course everyone was very excited for a good shower and a nice real bed tonight!
Tomorrow, I will be joining the 6th graders as they travel to Akko/Akkā (Acre) for the day to visit different religious sites, to explore the market and learn about the history.
The 7th and 8th graders will stay at camp, playing games, building friendships, engaging in educational programming, swimming, sports, and more.
For pictures, go to our Facebook page. More photos will be uploaded each day: Camp 2017 Photo Album