Keeping Summer Safe

July 14, 2019

3 min read

As the school year comes to a close many parents ask themselves the same dreaded question: “What on earth do I do with my kid during the summer?”

For fortunate parents, the promise of the long, warm summer months presents an endless array of possibilities. Vacations, spending quality time with the family, and of course, some alone time while the kids are off to summer camp.

But for those who are not so lucky, the summer months can drag on, especially when they have no framework.

In an effort to make sure no child in Israel is ignored during the summer, Meir Panim offers camps for children from an impoverished background.

Thus, these camps help not only the kids who have nowhere else to go when school is out, but they’re also a godsend for parents who can’t afford luxuries like summer camp.

“During the year, school in Israel is free. But during the summer, parents are responsible for paying for their child’s summer camp,” Mimi Rozmaryn, Meir Panim’s Director of Global Development, explained. While some parents are able to save up for camp during the school year, many who live paycheck to paycheck are unable to do so.

“For these families, summer becomes a burden. That extra NIS 1-2,000 can really be a strain on people’s finances,” she added.

The Meir Panim summer camps, located in Or Akiva and Dimona, offer kids basic necessities and much more throughout the day. At a very basic level, they receive breakfast and lunch. While some may dismiss this as the bare minimum a camp should provide, for these children who probably won’t get fed on a regular basis at home, knowing their nutritional needs will be met at camp is a relief.

“It’s so inspiring to see these kids, that we know come from a challenging environment, have fun,” Rozmryn added. “At camp, their faces light up.”

While the details regarding their home life are grim, at camp the children are eager to put that aspect of their life behind them and revel in being a carefree kid.

To help them do that, Meir Panim offers them a consistent schedule which includes morning prayers, workshops, and fun activities. Instead of watching TV all day, or worse, roaming the streets, these children go on stimulating outings weekly. From Sunday through Thursday, from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm, parents can rest easy and know their children are safe.

Moreover, oftentimes, the children participating in these summer camps also take part in Meir Panim’s after-school programs. The volunteers who help in the later program, also help out for summer camp. Seeing the same friendly faces daily year-round gives the children a sense of consistency that is largely absent from their home life.

“When you’re a kid and there’s turmoil and crisis, the more consistency they have in their life, the better,” she explained.

In Dimona, Meir Panim teamed up with Coca-Cola to teach kids the value of hard work. Up to 20 young adults enrolled in this volunteering summer camp where they earn points for their good behavior. At the end of the summer, the two organizations will host a big summer concert bash, where the points can be redeemed for fun prizes.

But during the summer, the kids have an opportunity to make a difference. From reaching out to Holocaust survivors to assembling care packages for the needy, these teens are taught the value of giving back to their community.

“I love that a big multinational like Coca-Cola is showing us support,” Rozmaryn said. “Additionally, it’s awesome to have young adults around our various projects. It’s inspiring.”

To help Meir Panim send Israeli kids to camp, please click here.

Written in cooperation with Meir Panim.

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