Now in its second week, a summer camp in Birzeit sponsored by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is bringing opportunity for summer fun, growth and creativity for local children.
The camp, which runs three days a week from June 16 until July 17, provides second- and third-graders with activities focused on math, Arabic, science and communication, interspersed with storytelling and music.
Sulimeh Zabaneh, director of the Birzeit Senior Center, is overseeing the project. She said the camp is an effort to target a new age group, based on local need.
She further commented, “I think in the face of the conflict in Palestine our children, who are denied their basic needs and rights, must be approached and provided with development and recreational activities.”
The initiative focuses on relieving stress and promoting creative thinking, by implementing a number of cultural, recreational and creative activities.
The camp takes place at the Birzeit Senior Center during the same times those seniors are present, providing opportunity for the seniors and children to mingle and share meals. This opportunity allows for multigenerational connections that are essential to the community.
Children in Birzeit often face a shortage of activities for growth beyond the classroom, and the summer camp works in conjunction with HCEF’s Child Sponsorship Program and Jesus Loves the Children Program, which complement the summer camp’s work to advance hope and opportunity for local youth.
“We do this so the children can fill their time with meaningful and useful activities, which is one of the steps to start to let the children learn how to think differently, to be more creative and critical thinking, to build self-confidence and be more individual people in the long-term,” said Holy Land Programs Director Salim Al Ama.
The camp is run and supervised by HCEF, in cooperation with Sharek, a Palestinian organization focused on serving the needs of children.
Local volunteers aged 17 to 21, who are familiar with HCEF and its services staff the camp. They are eager to support HCEF’s mission and its efforts to replace despair with hope, and are willing to give help to their neighbors through the foundation.
A day at cap starts with Ice Breaking and the Activity of the Day at 9:30 a.m. The 40-minute ice-breaking sessions focus on communication, using drawing and other art projects to build confidence in the children.
The Activity of the Day works to develop skills in the children, based in academic subjects. This is followed by brunch and a break. The day then finishes out at 1:30 after a session of storytelling and music, to continue development of confidence and creativity.
Twenty children are participating in this, the first program of its kind run by HCEF in Birzeit.