By: Yosef Kerendian  | 

In Israel, Students Spend a Summer Building Camps and Experiences

The school year was finally over, and to some that meant only one thing. Every year, Yeshiva University sends 24 individually picked students from a pool of well over 100 applicants to Israel for three and a half weeks. The aim is to run an American-style summer day camp for underprivileged teens coming from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds from different cities. The cities are all in the southern part of Israel, namely Arad, Dimona, and Kiryat Malachi. Each city had its own camp and every counselor was assigned a city, teaching partner, and two or more Chugim to teach and participate in with the Israeli campers and students. The Chugim encompassed activities ranging from basketball and football, to cooking, dancing, and drumming. Without exception, every camper walked away from camp gaining a few new skills and discovering some new hidden talents.

For the Israeli campers, each day became a new day to learn, strengthen, and build their confidence in English, play a new sport, participate in a “Minute to Win It” challenge, and make friends. For the counselors, there were new campers to meet, classes to teach, and goals to reach. The experiences over the course of the three and a half weeks were life-changing for some. "My first day of summer camp was nothing like I expected it would be. It was overwhelming, exhilarating, and everything in between,” said Rina Ben-benyamin, an Aradnik counselor hailing from Brooklyn, New York. “While I feel that the overall experience is deeply personal and often indescribable, certain moments will stand out in my mind for years to come.”

Another counselor, this time a representative to Dimona, mentioned, “The campers were all highly enthusiastic, amazingly creative and outgoing soon-to-be young adults with ambitions greater than most other students their age,” said the Counterpoint participant from Los Angeles, California. Taking just one example of many, three Israeli “graduates” of the program Ronny, Chaviv, and May created a team of robotic experts called RoboActive and, in fact, won 2nd place in the state of Israel in robotics! Their achievement demonstrates how much more confident these teenagers are after spending hundreds of hours with Yeshiva University students.

Many compare the impact they make while on Counterpoint to the way the moon changes in size every night. When you take a look at the moon on a clear blue night, you might not notice the slight change it has made since the previous night. However, over the course of a few days, let alone a week, you will see the noticeable difference in impact and size. So to, on any given day during Counterpoint, a counselor may not realize the major impact he or she is making on each and every individual, but over the course of the trip everyone will notice the incredible differences made on these bright, creative, and ambitious Israelis because of that one thing you did this past summer.