Doubling support to the Israel Summer Camps Forum, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) has contributed more than 1.5 million shekels (more than $400,000) towards scholarships for campers this summer. The scholarship money will go towards 1,000 Israeli youth, ages 10 to 18, participating in more than 40 different summer camps around the country.
For years, the IFCJ has been supporting camps run by the Israeli Ministry of Education and local authorities to help families struggling during summer vacation. With additional funding from a Canadian supporter of Israel, the Fellowship has been able to double support this year for the Israel Summer Camps Forum “Matan” summer camps, paying for 1,000 boys and girls from families that can’t afford camp.
IFCJ president Yael Eckstein said that “the challenges for families confronting poverty and other social struggles become that much more challenging when children are out of school. Our hope in funding these programs is to give these children a sense that they are being cared for and not being forgotten, and to just be kids.”
Programs integrate children and at-risk youth with kids who have special needs; one that brings religious and secular youth together to do volunteer work; and a camp that focuses on volunteering for the community with youth from all religious sectors—Muslims, Jews, Christians and others.
All camps, which include accommodations for 10 or more days, are “phone-free.”
Shauna Goodman Sohn, founder of the Israel Summer Camps Forum, said “from the research we do at the camps, we see that participating raises the level of acceptance for each other; creates a dialogue that brings kids closer; and gives tools and skills for life. Especially nowadays, when society is increasingly polarized, alongside the normative challenges that youth experience in Israel, we see great importance in ‘disconnecting’ from the day-to-day routine and ‘connecting’ to life itself.”