Lib­eral help­ings of fun and ed­u­ca­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - SUMMER SCHEMES -

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

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