by Karine E. Brown
Israel’s declaration as a State in 1948 brought thousands of eager volunteers, Zionist and wondering tourists to the country to discover the rebirth of the Jewish homeland. These visits created fond memories, deep connections and strong bonds between Jews living in the country to the ones who returned to their hometowns in the Diaspora.
As time went by and new generations came to be, those same visitors were looking for ways to connect their children to Israel so they too could feel and experience the same love for the country as they do. However, the lack of programs and fading dreams of the Zionist country posed an even greater worry to the Jewish nation’s next generation: assimilation and disconnection from both Judaism and Israel.
Realizing this fear, within the past few years, initiatives such as Camp Kimama, the only English and Hebrew speaking camp of its kind in Israel, came into existence to strengthen the relations between Israel and the Diaspora and Jews to their culture.
For the past 11 years, Kimama has catered to parents and children looking for Jewish sleep away camps. The Israel based camp provides a combination of unforgettable connections to friends their age from around the world in an ultimate camp experience, one that includes Hebrew and Jewish learning, sports, adventures and the sea.
“We created the camp to fill a worldwide Jewish need,” stated co-founder and CEO of Camp Kimama, Avishay Nachon. “International social networks such as Kimama are crucial in broadening horizons and creating a sense of belonging. The campers become a strong source of empowerment and ambassador like figures of the Jewish world.”
“There are a limited amount of worldwide Jewish initiatives offering such experiences,” expressed Nachon. “As the only Jewish and international camp in Israel, we created programs that place focus on connecting Jews from all over the world and especially so to the Jewish communities of Israel.”
With camp sites in Northern and Central Israel, campers can choose from a wide range of activities that fit their personalities. The summer camps focus on participant development by offering surfing, swimming, fashion and art, dog training, horse riding, sports/extreme, nature and media tracks. The tracks were created to help bond the campers to the Jewish nation through niches and the precious childhood experiences make the bond one that lasts more than their own lifetime! In as much, these tracks are lead by professionals in each of the fields. For example, the styling track is led by Shenkar College of Engineering and Design and the sports track by Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports.
“It’s amazing to see Jewish children from over 40 different countries immersed in a variety of cultures and languages together. We believe that these unique experiences help them develop long-lasting friendships and provide them life skills in order to grow into engaged and mature young adults,” expressed Ronny Osterer, the Camp Marketing Director.
“From year to year we see the tremendous change of the campers that return and we know we are doing a good thing. We see the bridge being built between the Jewish communities across the world. Its extremely powerful to hear how the campers connect to each other outside of camp by flying to visit each other across continents to spend the holidays together,” Nachon added. Yet, I know that only together, the entire Jewish Nation, through focusing on the future generations and only though more initiatives such as these can we truly create and strengthen the Jewish bond.”