For the 27th consecutive year, FJC is operating Jewish sleep-away and day camps in the FSU this summer. Overall there are more than 80 community camps running this season in seven countries as well as four teenage camps operated by the FJC’s EnerJew youth movement. Some camps are in progress, some have already been completed, others are yet to come.
“Ever since the beginning of FJC’s activities in the FSU, summer camps have proven to be one of the most unique and important ways to connect children and their families back to their Jewish roots, nation and tradition,” said Mr. Daniel Gordon, FJC outreach programs coordinator. “As the years went by, our network managed, despite the continuing struggle, to continue being attractive and welcoming. So many children look forward to the summer knowing that our camps are not ‘a babysitter’ – they are the place to become stronger, more connected and proud of their heritage like nowhere else,” he said.
For FSU’s Jewish children, FJC’s ‘Gan Israel’ camps are a great place to make friends and have fun, while for others they are the only opportunity to experience a summer vacation they would otherwise not have at all.
Most day camps take place at local community centers, while sleep-away camps are held at camp bases in picturesque nature locations. As for staff, 95% of the counselors now come from the community itself – former campers, activists, and graduates, whereas twenty years ago Gan Israel organizers had to bring counselors from abroad, having no experienced Jewish youth locally.
“Our staff is our pride – they are energetic, knowledgeable, skilled in informal education and above all they are proud Jews who wish to connect the next generations to the treasures of their heritage,” said Rabbi Yakov Sominsky of Velikiy Novgorod. “We are very lucky in that we get to see the fruits of our labor in them and we hope Gan Israel camps will continue leading local Jewish children on their path home.”
The Gan Israel FSU camp network is operated by the FJC since 1991 in partnership with foundations, philanthropists and additional supporters across the world.