FJC’s ‘Alumim’ Jewish Child Development Center in Zhytomir, Ukraine hosted its annual summer camp for disadvantaged families at the beginning of the month.
The camp provided 29 mothers-and-children families, 100 people altogether, with an opportunity to spend quality time together at a comfortable and secure environment, while the camp’s staff prepared an enticing educational program for both the children and the grown-ups.
“The camp, which was now in its sixth year, provides a ‘Jewish vacation to mothers an children – it includes fun and rest, Jewish content, a lot of spiritual development and positive thinking for both kids and grown-ups,” said Mrs. Malki Bukiet, the camp’s coordinator.
This year the camp’s theme was professions: on ‘Doctor Day’ the parents had a chance to meet with a children’s doctor and a speech therapist, while the kids learned about healthy routines and habits in a fun and playful manner; on ‘Lawyer Day’ the parents could get a consultation with a lawyer and the kids learned about being honest and fair, explained Mrs. Chani Maskevich, a coordinator of LifeChanger FSU, a human services project in Ukraine supported by the FJC, which had 12 families take part in camp.
Together, the families created hand-made toys, took dance classes, starred in theater performances. In their free time, while the kids played and leaned with devoted counsellors, the mothers discussed issues of upbringing, personal development and effective communications. For the first time, the mothers were not only actively involved in the program, but contributed by giving master-classes in their areas of expertise.
“Also, camp counsellors put a lot of effort into organizing emotional and warm evening programming that really brought the group together and allowed participants to connect,” said Mrs. Maskevich. The participants said that they felt transformed after the ten days of camp. “The camp showed how important it is to not be afraid of new things, explore new spheres of interest, devote quality time to children to really hear them out, ask questions and consult with professionals and apply their advice,” said Natalia, a mother of two, after the camp.
“This was one of the rare occasions I was able to feel the joy of being a mother, not just the stress, the worry and the responsibility of it,” said Elena, a participant from LifeChanger FSU and a mother of three, at the conclusion of the vacation.
Alumim Jewish Child Development Center in Zhytomir runs various programs for the Jewish population of the city and the surrounding region year-round. It hosts a Children’s Home for children from families in crisis, runs projects and seminars for parents and kids, invites families from remote towns for the Shabbat and Holidays. The Mother-and-Child summer camp is an important part of its projects spectrum in the summer.