Gan Israel-Camp Experience

from a parent's perspective


Every summer parents are faced with the same-old dilemma, how to make our children’s summer more memorable, fun and educational at the same time.  There are so many camp choices and our kids supply us with a list of things a mile long. 


Rabbi Rodal and his counselors, Nuttie, Shlomo and Levi organized a three-week all boys’ camp.  The camp schedule provided for water rafting, kayaking, amusement parks, paintball shooting, deep-sea fishing, and ATVs and sports competitions.  The Rabbi and his crew not only managed to provide the kids with lots of entertainment; they were able to take the kids on a spiritual journey into the world of Judaism and Jewish living.


But the highlight of the camp was a seven-day trip from Los Angeles to Sacramento, making stops in Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento.  Not only did the boys visit all of the places each city is famous for, but the children stayed in local Chabad houses, slept together ate together and studied together.  The boys, who never kept kosher or prayed, got to experience first-hand what it is to live as Jews.  When they came back home, we saw a metamorphosis.  They were singing Jewish songs for a change, the recited prayers at bedtime, they put on tefillin and they continued to wear tzitzit and kippah.  I do believe, that this summer they were on a pilgrimage to discover their souls and the deeper meaning and purpose of their existence and the existence of G‑d.  I dare say that they learned the values that no camp or school was able to teach them before.  And if, when they grow up, they suddenly feel lost, this summer camp gave them the tools to find their way back home, to the roots, to what is  most essential,  what we parents, wish to give our kids,  values, stability, power of prayer, identity, and guidance and  belief in G‑d.


With much gratitude and admiration,


Inna Gofman, a parent