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

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Summer Peace Camp of Open House Ramle 2016


 Preparations for our summer camp normally start months in advance beginning with registration, programming, enlisting the counselors and organizing the bussing from different locations both ways. And on the ground one can always expect the unexpected as with 120 children from different locations and backgrounds life is very dynamic.

We held our summer camp in the expansive grounds of Neve Shalom/ Wahat al salaam. Our program consisted both of camp site activities and travel. It included trips to the Safari zoo in Ramat-Gan, to a water park, to a horse farm where the children were offered the experience of taking care of the horses and riding, a walk in the forest, a trip to the close-by Latroun area with its multilayered history.

A highlight was the famous museum in Holon ‘Extreme Land’. This museum has trails that provide intellectual and emotional experience of the life cycle. However, it is particularly known for its ‘Dark Space’ called “Dialogue in the Dark”. Here is from their site:

Dialogue in the Dark’ provides visitors with an insight into the world of the blind. The guides, who themselves are either visually impaired or completely blind, open visitors’ eyes to their world, and help them understand that they are not “handicapped”, but simply different.
Equipped only with a cane, visitors go through the hall, experiencing the world in complete darkness. At the end of the visit, they gather for a conversation (still held in the dark), with their blind guide. The conversation deals with issues such as disability, coping, senses, and life in general. The museum, which employs some 30 blind guides, is the largest employer of blind people in Israel.

  At base, we have a tradition of multicultural activities in which the children are exposed to some of the world cultures. For example, they prepare special dishes for the whole camp, learn international dances, design costumes and make masks. This year, they joined photography workshops, acting workshops with professional actors, drumming and ethnic music. The children especially love to recreate the art of ancient civilizations in the Middle East, in particular that of ancient Egypt. Mary Manassa, an art teacher and therapist has been an Open House summer camp counselor for years. She directs the summer camp artistic creativity with engaging inventiveness.  

A great surprise for all of us was a performance by a Jewish Arab circus of teenagers which visited us from the Galilee. We were enthusiastic to see their ‘impossible’ feats and their cooperation with each other as Arabs and Jews! At the end of their show they invited us to try some of their wheels, sticks, ribbons and balls- a true pleasure for children of all ages!

Teenager and young adult volunteers who had been in previous summer camps were eager to be of use. They played with the children and helped set up the daily meals. We had the feeling that they wished to continue being in the warm and lively atmosphere of what they had known as their summer home.

 Most of these young people continue to join The Journey.

After a farewell party with campers and parents, we had a meeting of the summer camp staff at Samir’s restaurant in Ramle. Before the abundant Middle Eastern meal, counselors shared their experience of the summer camp and offered suggestions for the next year.

 

Summer Camp 2016 Photo Gallery (click on image to enlarge)