Having grownup going to sleepaway camp throughout my childhood, the experience has left a soft spot in my heart. The friendships you make and the independence you feel becomes a defining part of childhood.
We sat down with Cindy Wiesel, Camp Dror Coordinator to hear more about the experience in Israel.
Camp Dror is one of Israel’s most popular Orthodox sleepaway camps. Combining a love for Israel, love for religion and plenty of fun – the only complaint is that it doesn’t last long enough. On the flipside the short camp schedule means they pack in the fun and there is no time to get homesick.
What is Camp Dror?
Camp Dror is a 2.5 week sleepaway camp run by the OU in Israel, with a camp for boys in Hispin and for girls in Keshet. Kids come from all over Israel and all over the world including the US, Belgium, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada and Brazil. The camp is run in English & Hebrew which makes it perfect for tourists as well. Your kids will pick up the local slang but feel comfortable getting around with English.
No Need To Wait Till Your’e 16
Most religious youth living outside Israel are used to the idea of spending their summer when they are 16 in Israel to tour the country on Mach Hach, Sulam or with NCSY. But why wait to pack it all into one summer when you can experience Israel earlier with Camp Dror. Camp Dror was founded 25 years ago as an outgrowth of NCSY’s summer Israel program. With more anglo families making aliyah and wanting to stay in Israel for the summer, the camp has flourished.
Camp activities include Kayaking, Hiking, Swimming, Ice skating, Sail boating, Jeep tours, Team Sports, Learning groups, Drama, Cooking, Martial arts, Outdoor training, Arts and crafts, Social games, First aid workshops, survival workshops, zumba, Color war, Campfires, Capture the flag and more.
There is nothing like meeting a friend in camp where you bond over games, art and fun. This is a great opportunity for kids within Israel to meet kids from other cities & towns and for tourists to get to know Israeli kids they can relate to. With the no cell phone policy at camp, campers are given a chance to really be part of the activities.
Campers also build a connection to staff members and counselors they can look up to. The counselors are also the activity instructors which keeps them actively involved in interacting with campers. Running sports activities, color war and learning programs, the counselors give a lot to the campers.
Counselors are alumni of Camp Dror as well as seminary/Yeshiva students who stay on in Israel. Applications for counselors ends in February. You can always apply for next year!
It’s not just fun
Camp Dror is about empowerment and giving kids the chance to be independent thinkers. In fact the word Dror means “free”. Giving kids some time to get away from the screens and interact with friends in person 🙂
Tefilla is also an important aspect of the day. Camp tiyulim to get out and see Israel play an important role in the schedule. Camp Dror instills a love for Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael whether it’s through hiking, rafting, skating or any of their other fun activities.
Chesed is an important aspect and there are special activities that take place at the local Youth Center for underprivileged kids in the Galil or the Hospital or Old Age Home near campus.
Special Programs – Yachad & Leadership
Camp Dror is proud of their Yachad inclusion program where campers with disabilities are integrated into the everyday camp life with their own personal counselors. This adds an element of chesed and social awareness to the program.
Camp Dror’s leadership program is an incredible opportunity for teens going into 10th & 11th grade. The program begins with a 3 day intensive trip in Jerusalem followed by time in camp. Meeting scholars, leaders, high tech professionals and politicians to learn about leadership & about Israel today.
They even get to visit the President’s house and the Knesset. The program is open to tourists and local kids. You never know who you’ll meet, but you are sure to be inspired to lead.
I’m ready to sign up – how about you?