Summer camps often provide children with the opportunity to make new friends and explore a variety of hobbies and interests. A unique Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) camp serves another purpose: to provide 10 days of fun and refuge for children who have been directly affected by terrorist attacks.
Through a partnership between JUF and JAFI-one of JUF's overseas arms-the camp recently concluded its sixth summer of operation. Three hundred twenty children between the ages of 6 and 16 participated in a variety of activities at the day camp, ranging from nature hikes to amusement parks.
Over 90 percent of campers come from families directly affected by terror attacks and recipients of aid from JAFI's Victims of Terror Fund. Campers come from Jerusalem, as well as the central and southern regions. All campers attend free-of-charge.
JAFI's summer camp is the only organized activity most of the campers experienced during their summer vacation. Many campers struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and cannot participate in other summer activities for psychological, financial, or religious reasons.
"The camp gives the children a respite from their daily routine," said Ofer Bavly, director of JUF's Israel Office. "The camp gives them a fun and meaningful activity in a setting and environment that is adapted to their needs, whether they are physically challenged because of terror attacks, or because they have emotional needs resulting from the loss of close relatives. The camp offers them a shared experience with other kids in similar situation."
Unlike other summer camps, counselors must be at least 25 years of age. To meet the unique needs of each participant, the camp recruits counselors with backgrounds in psychology and therapy. All staff are trained in working with children struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder prior to the camp.
The camp is made possible by a partnership between JUF, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Crown Family.