Summer camp participants
Summer camp participantsRiki Marsha

Doubling their support to the Israel Summer Camps Forum, The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) has contributed over 1.5 million NIS towards scholarships for campers this summer. The scholarship money will go towards 1,000 Israeli youth, aged 10-18, to participate in over 40 different summer camps around the country.

The Fellowship, Israel’s largest philanthropic social welfare organization, works to help people in need, among them the elderly and Holocaust survivors, children and youth at risk, and others, all year round. For many years, The IFCJ has been supporting camps run by the Ministry of Education and local authorities to help families struggling during the long summer vacation. With additional funding from a Canadian supporter of Israel, the Fellowship has been able to double their support this year for the Israel Summer Camps Forum “Matan” summer camps and will pay for 1,000 boys and girls from families that can’t afford camp.

Among the programs are camps that integrates children and youth at risk with children who have special needs, one that brings religious and secular youth together to do volunteer work, and a camp that focuses on volunteering for the community together with youth from all religious sectors – Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others. All the camps, which include accommodations for the 10 or more days, are ‘‘phone free,’’ enabling the children to connect with and experience others in a more natural, and less distracted way, increasing their sense of capability and self-esteem as well.

Shauna Goodman Sohn, Founder of the Israel Summer Camps Forum, commented on The Fellowship’s decision and said: “Our summer camps enable Israeli youth to meet others who are different from themselves. From the research we do at the camps, we see that participating in the camps raises the level of the acceptance for each other, creates a dialogue that brings them closer, and gives tools and skills for life. Especially nowadays, when the Israeli society is increasingly polarized, alongside the normative challenges that youth experience in Israel, we see great importance in ‘disconnecting’ from the day-to-day routine and ‘connecting’ to life itself.”

Yael Eckstein, President of The IFCJ, added: “Particularly during the summer months, the challenges for families confronting poverty and other social struggles become that much more challenging when children are out of school. Our hope in funding these programs is to give these children a sense that they are being cared for and not being forgotten, and to just be kids. Thank you to all those who were instrumental in making this happen, especially our Canadian supporters.”