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Summer activities galore

Sunday 22 July 2007

Summer used to be rather a sleepy time here in NSWAS. School’s out and half the residents are away, enjoying their annual vacation. But this summer it suddenly became obvious that despite the soaring temperatures, the dusty air, and the hum of crickets and air conditioners, this is a deceptively busy time in the village. And perhaps that’s the way it should be, since it is a perfect period for activities, especially for young people.

Some of the activities are organized here, others are arranged in cooperation with NSWAS, while still more simply take advantage of the village’s facilities. Articles on the site have already described activities at the swimming pool, and told of the archeologists’ seminar at the hotel. We haven’t even reported yet on activities at the youth centre, or mentioned the Feldenkreis group beginning their four year teacher training course with a summer intensive at the auditorium. With all that’s happening, daytime parking near the village entrance has become a serious problem!

Children’s activities do not, of course, require parking at all, except when large tour buses deposit a crowd of happy children, or whisk them away on some interesting field trip. For the past two weeks, a group of Arab and Jewish children has been arriving from the vicinity of Ramleh and Lod for the annual summer camp arranged by the Open House in Ramleh. This has always been a popular activity for the children of NSWAS, but this year, for the first time, the camp itself is based in NSWAS, using the facilities of the school. A large number of NSWAS children are taking part, and some of the guides are fresh graduates of the leadership course organized by the Youth Centre. Now they have an advantage to put into practice what they learned.

Just today, two more important activities began. One of these is not actually taking place in the village, but is organized by the Pluralistic Spiritual Centre in cooperation with the Open House in Ramleh. The activity is called "the Journey", and involves a week long excursion to various places around the country. At every stop, a local resident will tell the story of the place, in order to enable the young people to experience aspects of each other’s cultural background that would otherwise be unknown to them. Twenty-two Arab and Jewish teenagers, between the ages of 15 and 17, are taking part in the program.

The second activity to begin today is the summer camp for children from Tulkaram in the West Bank. Last year, we wrote about a similar camp. It is very touching to see this group of happy kids, outside their refugee camp and traveling around the country for the first time, as if there were peace. Whereas, for many children, summer activities are just a break from monotony, for these children the activity in NSWAS is something so different from everything else in their lives that they will surely either remember it forever or dismiss it as a waking dream.

The Tulkarem kids are here!

In preparation, but not started is the third annual young people’s "activism camp", which takes place in the Aby Nathan corner of the woods adjoining the village. The camp is not organized by NSWAS, but merely takes advantage of its proximity for services and facilities. This afternoon a few of the organizers were out in the woods getting things together, since in another few days some 80 young activists, aged between 15 and 20 would be gathering there. Together they will study effective strategies for confronting issues like globalization, ecology and the Middle East conflict. The camp tries to put into practice its eco-principles, bringing in solar generators, engaging in compost making, etc. Teenagers from NSWAS are invited to take part.

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