15,000 children to attend Bnei Akiva summer camp in 16 countries

'Next generation of Diaspora Jews still connected to Israel and Jewish values, happy to disconnect from smartphone for two months.'

Tags: Bnei Akiva
Mordechai Sones ,

World Bnei Akiva Camp - Moshava BaIr Toronto
World Bnei Akiva Camp - Moshava BaIr Toronto
Ariel Markus

This year will see a record number of participants in summer camps around the world of the world-wide Bnei Akiva movement, the largest Zionist youth movement. According to an announcement made today by the movement, no less than 15,000 youth group members will take part this year in summer camps in sixteen countries during the eight weeks of summer vacation. Among participants are members active in the youth group during the year who return to the camps year after year, high school students in eleventh and twelfth grades, and young children, both kindergarten and elementary school-aged, who are not yet active in the movement. Among the countries where the camps take place are Australia, Italy, USA, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, France, and elsewhere.

The oldest camp is Camp Moshava in Pennsylvania, USA, which began in 1935, and until today carries on the same tradition. Each year anew Camp Moshava also bears the title of the largest Bnei Akiva camp, attended by 1,300 participants and 400 staff members.

Summer camps are one of the highlights of the youth movements' activities. These events take place for the most part in facilities specifically designated as summer camps, and many of the campers sleep over for between four weeks and two months. The camp program is chosen carefully and changes from year to year; this year most camps will be involved with the theme "The 70th anniversary of the State of Israel." Although some countries where the Bnei Akiva movement is active are located in the southern hemisphere where July and August are cold winter months, their camp activities take place at the same time as elsewhere. In these countries, the winter camps will be adapted to the overall schedule of the Bnei Akiva movement, and will operate in parallel to the northern hemisphere summer camps.

Moshava Toronto - World Bnei Akiva Summer Camp
צילום: Ariel Markus

About five different camps are held in Israel. Some of them are intended for members of the international movement who come to Israel to get to know Israel in depth, and an additional camp called Amichai for immigrant children, to give them the opportunity to continue experiencing the summer camps in the way they became accustomed to before moving to Israel. In addition, two summer camps that operate in Israel and the United States include among their campers members of special education programs given an opportunity to participate in the summer camp experience and be part of the activities of the general movement. These campers will take part in activities tailored to them and their personal needs, and will also be integrated into some of the regular activities of the camp.

All camps are run by veteran managers, joined by local emissaries as well as training teams composed of the movement’s counselors. In some countries the local Jewish community is also a partner in the organization and operation of the camps. The costs of the camp vary according to each camp, its duration, and its lodging conditions. Members of the movement wishing to participate in the camps in need of a subsidy can be helped by a scholarship fund operated by the various branches for this purpose.

World Bnei Akiva movement Director Roi Abecassis notes that "in contrast to the pessimism currently characterizing the discourse on the future of Jews in the Diaspora and their connection to Israel and Judaism, our summer camps are dispersed throughout the world as flickers of light and hope. In our camps we can witness how, contrary to the mistaken impression, the next generation of Diaspora Jews is still connected to Israel and Jewish values, and is happy to disconnect from the computer and smartphone for two months to engage in a values-based experiential activity."

Moshava Toronto - Bnei Akiva World Summer Camp
צילום: Ariel Markus