By COLlive reporter
The Young Shluchim Camp, the annual getaway and meet-up for children of Chabad Shluchim around the world, is gearing up for its opening winter season.
Held for some 25 years in the cool climate of Mount Lemmon in Arizona, the camp has recently moved to a permanent location in sunny South Florida, allowing for both boys and girls divisions to run consecutively in December.
Camp Gan Israel – Tzeirei Hashluchim for girls ages 7-13 will begin on Thursday, December 11 and continue to Monday, December 22, 2014.
Campers fly in to Palm Beach International airport (PBI) or Fort Lauderdale airport (FLL) with those living nearby driving to the Gold Coast Campsite in Lake Worth.
Leading the staff for the 5775 Girls Division will be Mushkie Shemtov of West Bloomfield, MI, Menucha Raskin of Vermont, Devorah Spalter of Weston, FL and Rochel Greenberg of El Paso, TX, all of whom were raised in a family that is on Shlichus.
Head staff for the Boys Division will be announced next week, said the Shluchim Office, the Chabad-Lubavitch Resource Center which organizes the camp. Dates for the boys division (ages 7-13) are Monday, December 22 – Wednesday, December 31.
The camp takes place for 10 days corresponding to most schools’ mid-winter vacation and the program is run by experienced, chassidishe head staff and counselors.
There will be no shortage of fun activities and exciting trips that fill up each day of the camp, yet it is the atmosphere that sets it apart from anything else, says Rabbi Moshe Pinson, who is directing the camp along with Rabbi Benzion Shemtov. The new camp grounds are directed by Rabbi Yossi Biston.
“Literally for the twenty-four hours of the ten days of camp, the children are soaked and surrounded by pure Chassidishkeit,” says Pinson.
“The way this is accomplished starts all the way at the top; each and every staff member who joins the camp is filled with a real passion for Shlichus, and Chassidishkeit is the greatest priority,” he said.
As Shluchim around the world juggle the responsibilities of family and community, home and outreach, delicately building the bridge that brings them together, the issue of Chinuch is constantly on their minds.
“These children live in communities where they are the only frum kid for miles around,” said a former staff member. “It was my job to try and infuse them with so much Chayus that they would feel empowered and energized for the long months ahead.”
Parents who sent their children to the camp say the experience is long-lasting. “We are so happy that she had this experience and was able to find her own inner courage in such a loving environment,” said Rabbi Yossi Wolff, Director of Chabad of Cutler Bay & Homestead in Florida, about his daughter attending the camp.
Rabbi Avi Rubenfeld, Director of Chabad of Chesterfield in Missouri noted: “Developing life-long friendships, gaining inspiration from older chassidishe bochurim, and learning to overcome their fear of being away from home in just a short 10-day stint.”
While it is certainly the dream of every Shliach to be a part of this camp, sometimes financial restrictions don’t allow this to blossom into reality. In an effort to help more young Shluchim have this opportunity, Rabbi Pinson has been working to offer scholarships.
Since space is filling up fast, he recommends signing up for the camp as soon as possible. “The value you will see for your time and effort will be more than you could ever imagine,” he says.
To register and for more info, visit shluchim.org