Over 400 Jewish teens across Russia and Ukraine participated in four EnerJew summer camps in those countries in the last few weeks. Concluded to raving reviews on Wednesday, the camps became the highlight of the summer in the Jewish FSU and one of “the most successful EnerJew events” in the movement’s 5-year history.
Next year the Jewish movement hopes to increase the number of participants to 600 and extend each camp session from 8 to 11 days.
“The camps were very intense, programming-wise. The kids were involved from ‘dusk to dawn’ in sports activities, games, excursions, a serious Jewish content program, and enticing evening events. Our staff of mentors, counselors and EJ coordinators has worked very tenuously to make it smashing,” said Konstantin Shulman, EnerJew director.
The concept behind each camp session was the creation of an “EnerJew city” – a prototype of a Jewish town or a community, where every group was named after a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The entire program was run by EnerJew-trained staff: coordinators, who have completed or are in process of competing the movement’s School of Madrichim leadership program, mentors- facilitators and children of local rabbis, who also attended several training sessions before the camps.
“The informal education background that all our staff had really made the difference in creating the special atmosphere of trust and connection that the campers enjoyed so much,” Mr. Shulman said. The camps were held at bases in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia and Vinnitza region of Ukraine, with a session for boys and for girls each. “The living conditions and the food were very high quality, which was valued by both the campers and their parents,” said Vitaliy Tikhiy, the camps’ programming director.
“This was just awesome. A camp on a level like I never experienced before, and a Jewish camp at that. We felt a unity, which I hope will transcend the summer vacation and carry on throughout the year,” said a participant from the boys’ camp on the EnerJew’s feedback video clip. Young EnerJew-ers filled up their Instagram and other social network accounts with camp pictures, clips, feedbacks, and memories.
Mr. Shulman said the movement is expecting a large influx of participants in the new 2018-2019 season, due in part to the camps’ success and ‘buzz’.