The Open House in Ramle - a peace education center in Ramle, Israel

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Summer Peace Camp 2012 Summary

By Naomi Riemer

This was a truly groundbreaking year for Open House Ramle’s Summer Peace Camp.

The camp was based at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam for the fifth year in a row and had 103 total campers: 43 Arab campers and, a record high, 60 Jewish campers. The kids came from Kibbutz Gezer, Yad Rambam, Kfar Shmuel, Mishmar Ayalon, Modi’in, Karmei Yosef, Tel Shachar, Ramle, and Lod.

dsc_0643 Happy Camper dsc_0970 We can hear you!!!
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The campers were broken up into four groups: Kvutsat Shalom Salaam, Kvutsat Galis, Kvutsat Ten Gaz/Atihah, and Kvutsat Lilo Shem.  Each group had one Jewish counselor and one Arab counselor, approximately two teenage volunteer helpers, and between 24 and 27 campers.  The campers ranged in age from 5 to 13, the youngest campers going into kitah alef – 1st grade – and the oldest entering kitah zayin – 7th grade.

The volunteers were 14-15 year olds who had just completed a youth leadership training program at Open House, many of whom grew up going to the Summer Peace Camp.

While the regular camp day went from 8 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon, about 30 of the campers stayed for an extra afternoon session – tsaharon – with two of the counselors, Shibli and Uri.  It was the first time that the Summer Peace Camp included this added afternoon component that allowed some of the campers to stay for lunch and participate in additional activities until 4 PM.

The camp staff managed to squeeze many exciting activities and day trips into the three weeks of the camp.

dsc_0897 Experiencing musical instruments dsc_0697 The young cooks
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Week One:

The first day of camp was spent playing ice-breaker games and deciding on a group name.  At the end of day one, the entire camp came together for a siyum – conclusion to the day – during which individuals from each group presented their group name and the group flag that they had created.  The campers waved their group flags with pride, taking ownership of the inclusive environment that the staff was attempting to create with the kids.

The second day was our first yom breicha – pool day – at the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam swimming pool.  The older kids enjoyed the big pool, splashing around in both the shaded shallow end and the sun kissed deep end, while the younger kids enjoyed the small pool in the corner of the pool complex.

The third and fourth days of camp were filled with opportunities for the campers to do art in various mediums.  The third day was a recycling themed arts and crafts day at Kibbutz Gezer’s nature park.  The kids made key chains, masks, animal figures, and planters out of recycled materials such as plastic bottles and shredded paper.  On day four, we returned to Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam (NS/WAS) for a movie making day.  An expert named Tomer taught the kids about the movie making process and then shot four short films, one with each group. (Links to the videos posted below!)  The kids also learned about cartoon animation and clay animation with members of the staff, Elan and Vered, and had a special session with a movie make up artist.

On the final day of week one, we went to Memadion – a water park near Tel Aviv – for a day filled with wave pools and water slides.

dsc_0732 Preparing fruit salad dsc_0420
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Week Two:

Week two started with a trip to the Clore Garden of Science, part of the Weizmann Institute of Science located in Rehovot.  The kids were given a tour by the park staff, learning about the laws of physics and various natural phenomena through hands on experiments.  The day was topped off with a liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstration and delicious taste testing!

On Monday of week two, the groups tried their hand at seven different team work/team building activities run by the counselors with help from the volunteers.  Decked out in colorful bandanas and face paint, the campers went around from station to station, completing each challenge as a group before moving on to the next mental and physical test of group cohesion and communication.  Some lucky campers also got a chance to participate in a Beads for Peace reflection session and beading workshop that same day.

The week peaked with a trip to Superland, a theme park located in Rishon le Tsion.  The campers broke up into smaller groups of 5 or 6 and explored the different rides and roller coasters with a counselor or a volunteer.

After all the excitement of Superland, the campers took part in a second relaxing yom breicha – day at the NS/WAS pool.  To celebrate one of the counselor’s birthdays, the campers enjoyed extra special pita with zatar and birthday cake.

Week two finished up with a cooking competition called Master Chef.  The groups decided what they wanted to cook, divided up the list of ingredients, and each brought in something to help their group create a culinary masterpiece.  The youngest group made chocolate balls with sprinkles and coconut coating.  Kvutsat Galis made fruity milkshakes.  Ten Gaz/Atihah boiled up some spaghetti and created both a chunky tomato sauce and a cream sauce to go on top.  And the oldest group presented a corn and olive pizza with dough made from scratch.  Five of the volunteers judged the various submissions, prizes were awarded, and the delicious food was shared between all the groups.

dsc_0154 How to turn plastic bottles into a hanging garden dsc_0246 Friendship
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Week Three:

On Sunday of week three, we went back to Rishon le Tsion for a day at Cinema City.  The campers had the opportunity to see a live performance of an interactive combined musical play and 3D movie followed by a private screening of Ice Age 4.

Next came rikudim im kochavim – dancing with the stars, a day filled with Salsa and Capoeira lessons for all as well as a musical instrument workshop with instruments from around the world.  The campers also got a chance to choreograph and practice group routines for the celebration with their parents at the end of the week.

On Tuesday of week three, the campers had a walking tour of Yafo, traveling back in time with the two staff members serving as their guides, Costa and Mary, to meet various characters throughout history.  They also spent some time touring a mosque and a church.  The day concluded with a stimulating historical movie at the Yafo Visitor Center.

During the final two days of camp, the campers spent most of the time in the NS/WAS swimming pool as temperatures rose to 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

To celebrate the many successes and accomplishments of this year’s Summer Peace Camp, a party was held at NS/WAS in the evening of the final day of camp, July 19th.  Campers and their families joined the staff for an evening of song, dance, and theater, the campers performing in Hebrew and Arabic for a captive family filled audience.  Vivian Rabia, the camp director, welcomed everyone and explained the plans for the evening.  Dalia Landau, the founder of Open House, spoke about the beauty and the mission of the camp, and Rabbi Miri Gold, a reform rabbi from the area, spoke about the importance of encounters of this nature.  The evening concluded with a picture slideshow and the worldwide premier of the four videos shot by the campers during week one.


Click to Read a letter of gratitude by Yael’s parents.

Links to videos from Movie Day on YouTube:

Kvutsat Shalom Salaam –

More Photos are available on our Facebook profile.


Our 2012 Summer Camp Gallery (Click on the images to enlarge them).