August 19, 2007 / 5 Elul 5767
From amusement parks to nature reserves, from kayaking to a 3-day of tour Jerusalem,
youth offered a variety of camp tracks.
Since July 1, the Jewish Agency has been providing day and overnight camp opportunities to all the 8,200 youth between the ages of 6 and 17 living in Sderot and the surrounding area, taking them to camps or on field trips outside the zone which has come under continuous rocket attack from the Gaza Strip.
On any given day during July and August, there are some 4,000 children and teens participating in a myriad of Jewish-Agency coordinated camp activities. This summer camp project for Sderot-area youth cost $4.79 million, funded by the United Jewish Communities, UIA Federations Canada, and Keren Hayesod.
"On any given day there is a camp activity available to each and every child in the Sderot area, which take place out of the range of the missiles," says Yael Raz, the Jewish Agency coordinator of the summer camps.
Camp activities include visits to Israel's nature reserves, amusement and water parks, zoos and the safari, entertainment performance, a stand up comedy club, even a miniature American Indian village was set up in a camp near Beersheva – all these on top of routine camp activities.
Next week (August 6) all camp tracks will take a three-day tour of Jerusalem, introducing the children to major sites, in celebration of the 40 th year of the capital's unification. Camps also bring children to the north of Israel, with a variety of nature-oriented activities, including hiking and kayaking; a camp group also went to Eilat.
Most camp tracks run for either one or two weeks, following which participants can sign up for another track or repeat the same track. Some of the camps are week-long sleep-over camps; others are day camps, with the children returning home every evening. The cost per child for a single day of camp is approximately $60 for overnight camps and $45 for day camps.
"The children are so happy and their parents are so grateful – we get thank you letters every day," Raz said.
Three thousand five hundred campers and their parents from the Sderot area at the Superland Amusement park on July 29. In the picture (left) Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski seated for a roller coaster ride alongside Migdal Or summer camp director Rabbi Grossman who hosted the Sderot residents on the camp's fun day out.
Campers from Sderot and the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council at Kfar Hahoresh Forest building tree houses from ropes and branches by day and participating in forest lore activities by night.
Sderot area kids go to Israel's Safari in Ramat Gan on July 12. The counselors prepared campers, some of whom have never been to the safari before, with activities to help the kids learn about the animals and their habits.
For more information and photos please view the Sderot Summer Camps blog.