“I want my kids to have a strong connection with Israel”, is heard everyday when parents are asked why they send their kids to Jewish Summer Camp. Shwayder Camp takes this mission seriously! We have worked hard to integrate a connection to Israel on a daily basis at 10,200 feet. Through our Israeli staff and campers, to specialized training for our counselors, and daily Hebrew, Shwayder Camp is working to make sure each camper feels a connection to Israel at 10,200 ft.
One of the ways Shwayder Camp helps create connections to Israel is through our staff. Every summer several staff members are recruited through the Jewish Agency for Israel to come work at camp. These staff members bring a love of their country, experience working with children and the real world experience of living in Israel. Through daily interaction with these staff members, conversations and questions about Israel are asked and answered and misconceptions are addressed. In addition to our Israeli staff, many more of our American counselors are sent on a special retreat called the Goodman Initiative. While hand picked by Jodie and Simi these counselors lead programs about Israel and our connection to Israel as a Jewish people. These programs range from a Mad Scientist program where kids create projects to help those around them, while learning about Israeli scientific contributions to the world to Israeli dance where the whole camp learns the latest moves while being exposed to Israeli pop music.
Shwayder Camp also has campers from Ramat HaNegev, Denver’s sister city, come to camp every summer. These campers participate in all camp programs beside our American campers. The Israeli campers serve as ambassadors for Israel to our American campers and provide an opportunity for our American campers to get to know someone their own age who lives in our homeland.
At Shwayder we also have a special Hebrew word of the day. Staff members present the word at morning flag pole to the entire camp, through a funny skit. The campers are told what the word means and how to use it. Then throughout the day, campers and staff are encouraged to use the word. This is a simple, yet highly effective way for campers to continue their connection to Israel though the Hebrew language. Throughout camp there are Israeli fact cards posted for campers to read while they are in between activities, eating and during free time. These cards have funny and insightful information abut Israel that get the campers thinking outside the box about Israel and its culture.
Creating a link between our campers and their Jewish homeland is something that we strive to acheive during our summers together. We hope that our campers leave feeling a connection to Israel and a new sense of pride in their Judaism.