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The Show Must Go On! Passover Day Camp for Evacuees

Updated: Apr 20

Despite Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel on Saturday night and the subsequent closure of all educational activities on Sunday, the evacuated city of Kiryat Shmona did not give up on its commitment to provide structure and fun for its children. 

In close partnership, Dror Israel, the HaNoar HaOved youth movement, the Tel Aviv municipality, and the Kiryat Shmona municipality swiftly adapted their plans for a weeklong “Pasechet,” or day camp for the duration of the Passover break. 

Iran's attack didn't stop dedicated educators from supporting Kiryat Shmona's youth

Shortened from five days to just four, the day camp included 400 evacuated children between first and sixth grades, currently living in hotels in Tel Aviv. The camp was planned and led entirely by youth counselors from HaNoar HaOved, many of whom are themselves evacuated residents of Kiryat Shmona. 

Evacuated teens have a chance to help others as junior counselors.

Dror Israel and its associated youth movement, HaNoar HaOved, have operated youth programming in Kiryat Shmona for many years. Following the city’s evacuation, Dror Israel educators immediately opened emotional and educational support programs in 16 evacuee centers where residents had relocated. These programs include a Junior Counselor Training course which has given many of the city’s teens the confidence and skills to be leaders and role models for younger evacuees.

On Monday, the counselors ran activities in the hotels in Tel Aviv following the Home Front Command’s last minute reversal of its prohibition on educational activities. Tuesday, the official first day of the camp, featured an expedition to a bowling alley in Ramat Gan.

The day camp was a chance to let loose and have fun!

On Wednesday, the Tel Aviv-based contingent of Kiryat Shmona evacuees met up with children and families from Kiryat Shmona coming from all parts of Israel at Magic Kass, Israel’s largest indoor amusement park. This gave the displaced children a chance to reconnect with their friends who have been evacuated to different locations. "It was a lot of fun, but I still miss living close to my friends and the views of my home in the Upper Galilee" said 12 year old Shlomi. 

On Thursday, the campers went out for a day hike to the Alexander river, which ended with a picnic and kite flying. Friday wrapped up the camp, featuring sports activities and a soccer tournament. 

"When I asked the kids what was their favorite part of the day camp, they started shouting 'Definitely the amusement park! No, the hike! No, the sports day!' In the end they agreed that everything was the most fun and asked if we could extend the camp for another few days," shares Roni, a counselor of Kiryat Shmona's youth in one of the Tel Aviv evacuee centers.

The decision to forge ahead with plans for the day camp, despite the fear and anxiety sparked by Iran’s escalation, highlights Dror Israel’s commitment to their partner communities. Kiryat Shmona, already an economically-struggling and peripheral town on Israel’s northern border, has been dispersed to over 100 different locations around Israel. Because of this difficult situation, as well as the ongoing uncertainty about when they will return to their homes, the ability to come together and have fun during the Passover holiday is particularly important. 

After months cramped in evacuee centers, kids need a chance to run around and play.

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