Summer vacation is a dream for most kids, an exciting thing to wait for throughout the grinding, monotonous school year. But at Kibbutz Eshbal's boarding school, a new tradition changes the rules and redefines the boundaries of what a boarding school can be.
Most youth living and learning at Eshbal's boarding schools come from disadvantaged homes, and after an intensive year of living in a loving environment with their counselors and peers, who become a close knit group of friends, many are not so excited to return to their families and home towns. To deal with this situation, the educators of Eshbal started an in-house “summer camp" for a few days after the official end of the school year.
Last year, the few days turned into a week, and this summer the youth of Eshbal stayed for a whopping three weeks into their summer vacation.
But this isn't just "time off" away from home and school. The summer camp keeps the students engaged in a variety of activities, and committed to different responsibilities.
The 10th graders renovated the horse stable, and turned the old unused chicken coop into a sitting area with a wooden deck, built new fences and planted hundreds of plants to beautify the area. The 11th graders volunteered as counselors at the Nitzanim elementary school in Carmiel - a community elementary school and a new addition to the Dror Educational Centers school network. And the 12th graders, before starting their last year at Eshbal – planned, coordinated and led an orientation seminar for the group of newcomers to Eshbal, the soon-to-be 10th graders.
When they weren’t building, planting, cleaning and counseling – the students went on trips, spent some needed time at the pool and had a lot of time for social activities led by their educators.
In the words of Chai, a student and a member of the 11th grade group: "Knowing that the children at Nitzanim school waited for me every morning gave me the strength to get up, it really filled my summer with purpose. It's not the usual 'sleep late and get up at noon' summer I was used to back home."
The Eshbal boarding school starts its new school year soon.
For more updates, check back here or at the boarding school’s Facebook page (in Hebrew).