Liberal helpings of fun and education
RESIDENTIAL SUMMER camp is the f i r s t o p p o r t u - nity most kids get to taste real i n d e p e n d e n c e and the unique atmosphere and camaraderie of a totally Jewish environment. My son went for the first time last year (when he was 13) and had a fantastic time, but by all accounts he was a late starter; many camps take children from the age of eight. Once they’ve been, they want to go again and again.
LJY-Netzer calls itself the dynamic cutting edge of modern Judaism. All activities run by this organisation promote liberal Judaism, progressive Zionism and Tikkun Olam (repair of the world). Undoubtedly this is a doctrine which fits comfortably into the lives of many Jews today.
Each summer, LJY-Netzer runs a twoweek residential camp in West Sussex. Now in its 31st year, Machaneh Kadimah is for ages eight to 14. The participants are grouped according to age: “Plagim” is for eight to 11s; “Mechalim” for 12- and 13-year-olds and “Yamim” is for age 14. When you hit 15, things move outdoors — Machane Chalutzim camp is under canvas! This provides a real change from the other three camps and presents its own challenges and atmosphere. The older kids are given the opportunity to plan activities for the younger ones, which is great preparation should they choose to become leaders themselves. All four groups are at the same site, which creates an exciting, big-camp atmosphere.
A superb team of leaders, most of whom have grown up in LJY-Netzer, are supported by first-aiders, medical professionals and kitchen staff, to ensure that the children are well-lookedafter and well-fed (very important at a Jewish camp!). The site boasts indoor and outdoor sports facilities, an art room and a large hall where discos and a last-night show are held.
The kids enjoy a busy programme including art, dance, debates, creative writing, Frisbee, swimming, bowling, football and lots of other sports. These are interspersed with Liberal Jewish education, through informal methods such as drama and discussion. Special food, activities and services are laid on for Shabbat.
Harley-Joe, 14, from North-West London, has been going to Kadimah every year since he was eight. “My parents went on the camp when they were kids and when they were older they were leaders,” he told me. “My older brother and sister went every year, too and last year my brother went on an Israel tour with LJY. Each age group goes to bed at different times and I like it now that I’m older and we have discussions when the younger kids have gone to bed.”
Jacob, 10, from South Woodford, Essex, who went on Kadimah last summer says: “They told us to go to bed at nine, but we stayed up really late in the dorm chatting. It was great fun!” Jacob had a fantastic time and is going again this year. “I enjoyed all the activities and learning about Israel and we also had lots of free time, when I went to the games room and played pool and table tennis. I especially liked the afterdinner activities — one evening it was such fun, we did a ‘disgusting’ challenge where we had to eat sandwiches with revolting fillings or a bottle of whipped cream! The best thing was the ‘wide’ game, which takes place in a field and involves lots of challenges.”
Both boys told me that the meals and tuck shop were good and that they met lots of new people. Harley-Joe now keeps in touch, on MSN, with friends in Brighton, Ireland, Scotland and even Spain. Bet he can’t wait to meet up with them all again in July!
Self-confidence and enthusiasm reach a high level at LJY-Netzer’s Machaneh Kadimah
Kadimah participants forge new friendships with others from across the UK and beyond