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Jewish youth from 22 countries arrived in Israel this summer to interact with Israelis, see a bit of the country and get a taste of Israeli living. What drew them here were not appeals to their Jewish identity, the desire to see the Western Wall or the opportunity to relax on a Tel Aviv beach. What attracted them was an attempt to speak to the kids in their own language and offer them opportunities to learn about things that interest them on a personal level. The language was the international language of hi-tech and computers and the platform was eCamp, a private summer camp that specializes in computers, Internet and all things digital.

ECamp was first established three years ago by Dotan Tamir and Shlomo (Momo) Lifshitz. Tamir, then a 25-year-old student, brought his love and knowledge of all things technological and his experience from working in American summer camps, and Lifshitz provided the logistical and financial backing, through his educational travel company Oranim, and his passion for modern Zionism. The result was an educational summer camp that lets children focus on the things they know and love, but that also introduces them to the values of Jewish solidarity and love of Israel.

We wanted to connect world Jewry to Israel, not only through its history and heritage, but through its technological novelty and creativity. Kids that go through weeks of shared experiences form long lasting friendships. We think that hi-tech provides them with a common interest that enables the bonds to be tighter and last for longer,” said Tamir.

ECamp, which recently completed its second session of the summer, invites youth from all over the world to participate in a two-week sleepover summer camp based out of the Alonei Yitzhak boarding school, 20 minutes from Hadera. During the camp, the children take part in a wide variety of activities, both on the site and on field trips, all of which are connected in some way to Israel’s hi-tech industry and culture.

THE CAMPERS, aged eight to 16, split into three age groups. Like most things at eCamp, the groups are fashioned after computer lingo, with the three groups being Kilobytes 8-12, Megabytes 13-14 and Gigabytes 15-16. Every age group has a director and a group of counselors and the groups live in separate dorm buildings. In addition to their age cohorts, the campers also split up according to their particular interests. Three times a day, they take part in eWorkshops, courses that the campers choose ahead of time and which make up a major part of their educational program. The eWorkshops take place in large classrooms with state-of-theart equipment and are led by knowledgeable and experienced counselors. Each camper chooses three workshops that appeal to their interest and spends an hour a day for each course, over two weeks, learning new skills and practicing what they learn. The list of workshops resembles a college course list more than a summer camp’s activity menu. No archery, horseback riding or basketball classes for these kids; for them it’s all about graphic design, C++ programming and phone apps development.

(via, read more here)

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