The Ideal way to spend your summer
While you read this, a team of professional counselors are training and prepping for what my good friend Abbee likes to call, “The Best Summer Ever!”
Camp Ideal runs from June 12- July 28, and we have so many amazing things in store for our campers! But, to make it even more special, we need your help. Part of our daily programming is often “workshop” hours, where we invite community members to come in to share a skill or hobby with our campers. This may include art projects, pottery, blacksmithing, woodworking...you name it, we try it!
If you have something you could offer the youth in our community, we want to hear from you!
Don’t forget that Camp Ideal and summer also mean Shi’Shuk Market is back! With our new cart freshly painted, and a long list of items we plan on making with our campers, we hope to see you every Friday this summer! Each week of Camp (except July 7), we will be out in the circle drive from 3:30 to 4:30 PM with our campers selling kosher baked goods, desserts, honey, hand creams and other items made from ingredients found in our garden! We sell everything at a low price, and any profit is donated to a local organization that the campers are passionate about.
In addition, Gan Ideal, our Federation Unity Garden, is planted and looking great! Campers will learn about sustainability, where our food comes from, and how to take care of nature. But little hands can only accomplish so much with the time we have, and any other hands, green thumbs or not, are invited to stop by to help any day of the week (9 AM-5 PM) or on Sundays, if arranged in advance.
If you haven’t seen the garden yet, you may be surprised at how great it looks!
We aren’t looking for help with weeding, as we shouldn’t have hardly any this time around after the work we put in!
Unity Gardens is a local project we are proud to be a part of. In fact, the Jewish Federation was one of the first “satellite gardens” to join! Last year, the central Unity Garden provided 200,000 tons of produce for free to the community. They help families with food insecurity learn how to grow their own food, provide free seeds and plants for all of their community gardens (like ours), and this year, we were the first to get help from Unity Garden volunteers who put in our new “lasagna” style garden. Yup, you read that right. A group of strangers came out to the Federation and built our garden, donated all of the plants, and taught hours of free lessons. I hope we can repay the help soon by providing fruits and veggies to our community, but for that, we will need a bit of help.
For me, Camp has always been about getting outdoors, away from the screens, and learning about what we can accomplish together with friends. We have multiple camp sites set up on our hiking trails, including the new Achari trail put in by South Bend Mishawaka Youth Leadership! Achari means follow me in Hebrew, a saying most commonly connected to the method in which commanders lead in the IDF: “follow me, I will lead you.” The trails are ready to be explored and I invite you to come with your family or on a lunch break from work to walk the trails, listen to the wildlife, smell the aromas of the wildflowers and experience the serenity that is right in our backyard! Want to go camping? The Federation also has tents and camping gear you could borrow! Think about getting a group of friends or family together for a basketball game, softball game, soccer, cornhole, ultimate frisbee, shoe golf, bocce…I really could go on, but you get the idea. We have the equipment and want to see you here! The Federation has been like a second home for me these past two years, and I hope everyone reading this knows that our doors are always open. That is, if you call ahead to make sure we’re open. But if you know me, I’m usually around if there’s daylight.
It’s strange, just a few years ago this was the time of year we were preparing for the mango harvest in the Moshav I lived on while learning Hebrew, prior to my IDF service. Once, while riding back on a nine-ton crate full of mangos, the pack house operator looked up and laughed at me. He called out “what in the world is an American doing working on a farm out here?! You should be back in Miami!” Which, I responded, “I’m from Michigan, very different from Miami.” I loved being outdoors in Israel, playing with my nephews from my adopted family, and learning Hebrew with them. I thought there would never be a place I would feel as comfortable and happy. Even if there are days I wish I was back in Israel, I can say that being in South Bend, getting to know and be welcomed into the community, and directing Camp Ideal for the third summer in a row has been another dream.
I hope I can help you find the adventure, the peace and the activity you would like to have in your community, and that you think of our Federation as your second home like I do. Have a great summer, and please stop by for a visit soon!