Netzer Camp – by Jody Segel!
Nervously I stepped out of the car and to my shock and horror nature, tents and bugs surrounded me. This Jo’burg princess was in for a real back to basics treat at our new campsite in Grabouw aka NATURE! After getting over the initial shock, I, as well as my fellow maddies (leaders) realized that this new camp site was just what Netzer needed. A fun filled, new experience was had by all as we went back to basics. We all slept in tents and called upon the heroes amongst us to take out the giant rain spiders or other goggas in our path.
The kids as well as the maddies had a ball because we had our own dam on site and would go swimming every other day as well as obstacle courses which included crawling in the mud and zip lining across the dam. The outdoor space allowed our kids to be outside, soaking up the sun, while enjoying the planned activities.
Much was learned about Israel and South Africa as we had Israel day – where schwarma and hummus were a treat – and South Africa day – where boerewors and pap was enjoyed by all. These days emphasized the importance of Israel as South Africans and South Africa as Jews.
One of the highlights was colour wars, where the kids were split into two teams with each team having to complete different challenges throughout the day. The team work was impeccable and everyone gave it their all! After such an exciting day it was time to prepare for our beautiful Netzer Shabbat. Our service was held outside and we sang the most beautiful prayers which truly awakended us spiritually. We then sat down to a tasty Shabbat meal and sang songs from High School musical to Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu late into the night. We were fortunate enough to have Rabbi Greg and Rabbi Schell join us for the Shabbatot. Rabbi Greg’s stories mesmerized the kids and Rabbi Schell’s morning service gave each child a special part within the service.
Our kids learned a lot about Israel as our mishlachat (Israeli delegation) prepared Israel hour daily, teaching them a Hebrew word of the day as well as something exciting about Israel. We also took a trip to The Strand where they learned how to sail with the Jewish Maritime League and they got to play on the slippery slide and participate in a treasure hunt. A great day was had by all.
Camp was not only fun and games we tackled important life lessons such as Tikkun Olam ( social action). Our second oldest age group went to the SOS children’s home and painted a room for them, they also played with the kids. Our two younger age groups learned about the importance of looking after and respecting animals. They also made sleeping bags from newspaper and black bags for the homeless. A valuable lesson in social action was emphasized and our kids enjoyed helping the less fortunate.
Camp flew by and before we knew it the last night had arrived. The kids expressed their amazing talents in our talent show and then got all dressed up for our disco. The music was pumping and everyone danced for hours, followed by activities such as midnight masterchef, gagga ball and movies so that the kids could stay up all night before saying goodbye to one another. The last morning saw many tears shed as we sadly said our goodbyes. I believe that every one of us had a beautiful camp experience as we connected with our Judaism, nature and with each other. It was the best camp that we’ve had in a long time and all we can hope for is that this year’s camp will be even more exciting!!