Splashing in a pool, hanging out with friends, going on fun day trips and wishing the day would never end. These are the images that every child who goes to camp dreams of throughout the year. And when the bell rings on that last day of school and vacation finally begins, it almost always lives up to expectation. This is especially true for the hundreds of Israeli children currently attending Meir Panim’s summer day camps in cities across Israel.
As parents, we all understand how the summer vacation can be a long and frustrating one if our children aren’t kept occupied. Camp—whether day or sleep-away—often provides the best solution for this. However, as parents we also know that a month or two of this summer pleasure can put a strain on the family purse strings.
According to the National Insurance Institute’s 2011 Poverty Report, 40% of Israeli children live below the poverty line. Although the consequences of this statistic extend far beyond the summer sphere, one significant manifestation is that parents of these children are seriously struggling to cope when the set schedule and useful benefits of school are put on pause for two months.
Ten years ago, Israel’s community outreach organization, Meir Panim, sought to combat this problem. Through community funding and excellent organization, Meir Panim have been enabling thousands of children over the last decade to enjoy the simple, yet exciting pleasures of camp that most of us take for granted.
Meir Panim day camps are run in six locations across Israel for children aged six to twelve. Rather than sitting at home alone or wandering the streets, these children are taking part in fun and educational activities and receiving the love and attention they deserve. Meir Panim also provides two hot meals daily, something that unfortunately many of these children are not able to receive at home.
Summer camp 2012 is presently in full swing. Highlights so far include a trip to the Armored Corps Museum in Latrun where campers learned about Israel's rich history of bravery and patriotism and received medals for their own acts of "heroism"; a day out at an Amusement Park; and a chocolate workshop where campers tasted and created delicious chocolate treats.