Jul 04, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara

Israel Day

Session 2, Day 10

Every day at Ranch Camp is a fantastic day, but there are some that stand out the most. These are the days when something special and out of the ordinary happens, like the water days we had earlier, or days like Maccabiah. Today was one of those days.

As they walked down to degel, campers could immediately tell that something was different – the air was permeated by excitement. The decorations adorning the stairs up to the Chad and the new arrangement of the tables further added to the mystery. Many had an inkling of what was happening, but no one knew for sure until Idan, one of the Israeli delegation, made the announcement: it’s Israel Day!

Israel shows up in many ways throughout camp, with the most notable being the Israeli delegation, along with many signs in Hebrew and an “Israel Trail” in the Outer 400. Though Israel is always a part of camp culture, this is never quite as evident as it is on Israel Day. Throughout the day, campers get to experience the culture of Israel without having to leave the comfort of camp, as Ranch Camp transforms to reflect the country so far away.

The day began at breakfast. The Chad was permeated with the delicious smell of eggs cooked in tomato sauce – a dish called shakshuka, a traditional Israeli breakfast food. This strain of exploration continued throughout the day, with a lunch of falafel and dinner of tahini chicken.

The morning activities commenced as usual, with campers splitting into their tracks to pursue their interests through the specially designed programs. But in the afternoon, Israel Day truly kicked off. Instead of the usual schedule (cabin activities and then a free choice activity), campers traveled with their cabins to different stations all around camp. Through fun games and activities, they learned how to make pita, some historical trivia, about different Israeli foods, and about the geography of the country.

After dinner, everyone went back to their cabins to prepare for the evening activity: an Israeli shuk, or market. Each cabin was ecstatic about creating their own product to sell. After half an hour, the camp gathered in the Chad again, everyone excited to set up their own creative booth. With chocolate balls, gel pen tattoos, caricatures, friendship bracelets, and paper-pet adoption, the campers were thrilled to spend the “money” they earned. Not only did everyone have a blast, but kids got the opportunity to manage money for themselves and see the results of their hard work.

There are many reasons that Israel Day stands out in the minds of many. The most significant is that it is a day full of meaning. There are not many places where it is possible for kids to learn about Israel in a truly neutral environment, without politics involved, and this is what we give them here at camp. We give them the opportunity to learn about the culture and the history of an amazing place, and to question and discover in an environment of tolerance, acceptance, and support.