December may have been cold, but Netzer FSU hosted 11 children and young adult counselors for a holiday break that warmed their hearts.
Camp Three Whales, as it was called, welcomed 11 participants ages 7-13 years old and counselors, for a multi-day activity framework replete with informal and formal educational activities, recreational outings and Shabbat services.
Held at Beit Simha in Minsk, together with the congregation, Camp Three Whales wove its focus on Jewish Folk Art through group dynamic activities, leadership training, creative workshops; which, together, were also designed to help the participants learn about themselves and discover new interests and skills.
On Friday evening, communal prayers at Beit Simha welcomed the Shabbat, followed by a festive meal. Shabbat morning services brought together four generations of the Reform Jewish community in Minsk for prayers, including children participating in the Three Whales Camp; Tamar, Reform Zionist young adults, who were counselors and members of the congregation; Kehillat SHEKET, a deaf and hearing-challenged community in Minsk; and the Beit Simha local Reform congregation. A moving Havdala ceremony with Netzer FSU concluded Shabbat festivities.
Saturday night activities also invited feedback and insight from camp participants where they shared their interests in becoming more involved with Netzer, exploring their Jewish identities further and offered ideas for social activities.
Additionally, individual participants shared how Three Whales Camp, “made my holiday so bright,” with a range of fun activities to share with friends; another thanked the camp and counselors for “making activities that were so fun, and a camp that is so warm and welcoming that it feels like being with family.”
Camp counselors will take their ideas and suggestions into account when planning future camps.
Camp Three Whales began four years ago as part of Netzer activities during seasonal/ holiday activities – namely, three times a year (Autumn, Winter and Spring), for children ages 8-13, in groups of up to 15 participants. The camps are run jointly with Beit Simha and offer younger children an outlet for informal educational activities, creative and recreational outings and experiential Judaism over the course of a weekend or few days during seasonal breaks; and for young adults, the opportunity to be involved as leaders, educators and counselors during their vacations.