UJA sends Sderot teens to US summer camps

Camp USA implements program to allow the teenagers respite from their troubled region.

homemade kassam 298 (photo credit: AP)
homemade kassam 298
(photo credit: AP)
A second group of teenagers from Sderot and other Gaza Strip periphery communities is spending a few weeks at summer camps in the US, thanks to the UJA Federation of New York. Camp USA implemented the program, which is intended to allow the teenagers a respite from their troubled region. Fifty-two 13- and 14-year-olds were given scholarships to one of five New York summer camps: Edwards Isaacs, Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, Berkshire Hills Emanuel Camp, Surprise Lake Camp and Camp Louemma. The first group of campers left on June 29, and the second leaves Tuesday. Before a recent cease-fire with Hamas was implemented, communities in the South were the targets of near-daily Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza. The mother of Ofek Cohen, who is set to leave for camp, told The Jerusalem Post it will be good for her son to be "in a different environment with children his age, where he'll be more relaxed." "This month is quiet, but we don't know what will happen," she said. The campers were interviewed by Camp USA and teachers' assessments of who stood to gain the most from the experience were taken into account. Basic spoken English was also a requirement. Israeli advisers have also been trained to prepare the children and assist them, both before and during camp. The Israelis were briefed on American Jewish culture and the issue of representing Israel abroad. Campers who've already arrived are having a wonderful time, according to the letters sent to their parents. "I can say that she is really happy," the father of Kalanit Jolodenco, who is attending Camp Eddie Isaacs, said. "I don't know if there is another word to describe what she is experiencing, and I don't know if she has ever felt this happy before."