For the very first time, Camp Yeka Girls offered a winter program for Jewish girls from all over Ukraine including, Dnepropetrovsk, Dneprodzerzhinsk, Zaporozhe, Poltava, Zhytomyr, Odessa, Uzhgorod, Kiev, and Khmelnitsky.
This camp is funded strictly by the staff who fund raise to come and do this on an entirely volunteer basis. The majority of the campers were orphaned children, or girls from extremely underprivileged homes and difficult backgrounds. Unfortunately, most of these children aren’t welcome at regular winter programs because of their problematic mental health or inability to pay the high fees. But at Camp Yeka, “Every Girl Is Family.”
The girls gathered in the frozen Carpathian mountains. The Boykosvksy-Dvir Campus, featured: skiing, sledding and tubing, which were completed with the all necessary equipment. Every day, each girl experienced a different thrilling sport. Additionally, Yeka campers enjoyed an indoor, winterized swimming pool and a private sauna.
Aside for participating in the variety of activities the campus offers, Camp Yeka girls played special games, created crafts, baked challah, and enjoyed creative night activities.
Adding to the fun, throughout the day, girls were involved in various Torah discussions such as Tzivos Hashem, interactive shiurim, farbrengens, and Seder Niggunim. Concluding the day with Rebbe Time – a Yeka favorite. At Rebbe time, girls would discuss stories and ideas about the Rebbe and before all the lights shuts out, the camp gathered to recite the Shema in unison. This special moment is what each child concluded her day with.
From dusk to dawn, warmth and positivity were palpable throughout the campus. Days at Yeka Girls were filled with singing, dancing, and building meaningful friendships.
As a gift, each girl received her own Yeka sweater to wear with pride. While the girls boarded the bus from camp wearing their Yeka sweaters, each bore a proud smile, knowing that Yeka is the Rebbe’s Camp where she is a precious family member.
In a new venture, Rabbi Shlomo and Miriam Tereshkyevysh, active members of Dnepropetrovsk Chabad community and Tzivos Hashem of CIS, joined the camp as technical directors.
Rebbetzin Faige Golomb, Shlucha to Sheffield, UK volunteered her time and flew in to cook, providing the girls with hot, delicious meals enjoyed by both the Ukrainians and Americans. She said, “I am inspired by the unconditional love and affection given to the campers. I was always so involved in the planning of Camp Yeka Girls but really seeing is believing. An unbelievable chayus and an unbelievable organization.”
Between the American counsellors from abroad and the local Ukrainian, Junior counsellors, each girl left with everlasting friendships and deep, meaningful connections.
Despite the minus 30 temperatures, the joy and chayus elicited a fire in the heart of every camper, warming them and the entire area.
As the resounding Niggun of the youngest bunk goes, “Nye zhuritsyi dyetki, sho is nami bude, mee poyedom na karpati, tam ee yeka budet”- “when you have all the troubles in the world, don’t worry, go to karpati for Yeka.”
A big yasher koach goes out to all out supporters. This camp is your camp too, because of you this golden retreat took place.