Musalaha Palestinian/Israeli Summer Camp Report

“I love this camp,” a pre-teen girl told me as we played in the pool, “I love everything it stands for and everything it’s about, and it’s so fun!”

This attitude was echoed throughout Musalaha’s Israeli-Palestinian summer camp by the seventy Palestinian and Israeli believing children and both local and foreign leaders.
For me, after six months in the Land, this camp gave me real hope like nothing else I have experienced. There was hope in the Bible studies, in the competitions, in the craziness and laughter, and in the worship. There was hope as the children were creative with their crafts and reckless in their play. There was hope as they were just being girls and boys – having fun, making friends, getting a break from the pressures of their everyday environment.
The fifty leaders arrived on Saturday afternoon to begin a run-through of the camp activities. We were quite a mix – the Musalaha leadership team, Israeli and Palestinian young teens who were junior counselors, Palestinian and Israeli college-aged counselors, and an American team visiting the country to serve us and the children. Over the course of the two days of preparation we got to know each other, and when the children arrived on Monday, we were ready!
When they arrived, many of the children found friends they had met at last year’s camp. A group of two Palestinian and three Israeli girls negotiated to be in the same room. Upon receiving permission, they pulled five bunks together to make one huge bed where they could sleep together.
During my time here, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying who is on which side – quickly profiling everyone I meet. It’s usually unconscious, automatic, and often seems necessary. When I get on a bus, I need to remember what kind of bus it is so I know if I should greet and thank the driver in Hebrew or Arabic. When I see a group, I notice which side they are from. When I talk to people, I want to know where their sympathies lie so I don’t say something terribly offensive.
At the camp I realized that I wasn’t noticing who is Israeli and who is Palestinian. I saw my brothers and sisters from both sides of the conflict demonstrate a love of Christ and each other above their love of sticking with their side. Leaders cared for kids, loving and instructing them regardless of where they are from. We were all there as believers in Jesus, and as should more often be the case, during camp no other identity really mattered.
One day after craft time, a Palestinian boy from the West Bank proudly pulled me aside to show me his pencil case. On it, he had painted an Israeli flag. I am not sure how his parents will feel about it, but it showed me how much more simple this situation is for the children. He loved his new friends and leaders and therefore had fond feelings about the place they are from.
As my coworker Tamara and I reflected on the camp, she said, “Innocence breaks down all this hatred that we have around us. You love the good things that you see in the other side. Like Jesus said, we should be little children.”
The reality is that the conflict will probably get harder for these dear young ones as they get older. They will be pulled and they will likely have experiences that will confirm what their communities teach about the other. The conflict is real and they will likely come face to face with it before long.
But that thought is followed by remembering what I saw in the young adults who helped to lead the camp, many of whom have been raised as a part of Musalaha. They are pulled, but they do not forget their friends. For them, the “enemy” will never be faceless, inhuman, or distant. For them, the situation will never be easy or black and white. That is good. With open eyes they can help bring change. They are the hope.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18:1-3

See previous post and my Picasa album for pictures from the camp. See videos from camp on Musalaha’s YouTube channel I’ll also put a few here over the next few posts.
Musalaha’s Palestinian-Israeli Summer Camp

Musalaha’s Palestinian-Israeli Summer Camp

Here is a picture update from last week’s summer camp. Tomorrow I’ll post my reflections on the camp. It was really wonderful, as you can see from the pictures below.
During leader orientation we did the activities we asked the kids to do later in the week. I think the guys did a pretty good job (even though we women won)!
Hillary, one of the other leaders, with one of the girls in her cabin during the Bible study time.

Doing something like a Bible drill.

The kids did even better than the leaders with the newspaper clothes. I had a soft spot in my heart for this kid… just look at that face!

I saw this girl walking through the camp on the last morning and chased her down for a picture. I think her shirt  is great — and perfect for the camp.

So much fun!

This little guy was so sweet. He wanted his face painted as a football (soccer ball). He is originally from South Sudan.

We had moon bounces galore and lots of water one afternoon. Everyone had a wonderful, fun time!

No caption necessary:-)

More fun.

Enjoying the water.

Picture in Ronit’s hand: what she said she was going to do to my face. My face: what she actually did to it. I’ll post the video she made in the next few days.

Diligently working on the crafts.

Anticipating America…

Summer camp this week was amazing, and for the first time I have a moment to post the promised blog about what I’m looking forward to about home. During this coming week I also plan to share some great summer camp pictures and hopefully a post about the things I’m sad to leave… things which are starting to invade my brain. Thankfully, over the last few weeks of being really really excited to go home I have noted some of the random things I am really looking forward to about my time in the States. I’ll make some notes about why as well:

I’m looking forward to… BAKING
As I have mentioned previously on here and as any of you who have met me know, I love baking. It is my favorite thing to do to relax and also a way I love to share with others. I haven’t had an oven here, and tools and ingredients have been hard to come by. Once, out of desperation, I steamed a cake on the stove. I can’t wait to get into a fully-stocked kitchen and to pump out some good old favorites! (Get hungry, Mom and Dad!)

I’m looking forward to… driving
Thanks to my amazingly generous friend Tamara, I have been able to drive some here. But I look forward to getting around on my own, not being sooo worried about using gas (maybe 4x more expensive here), and just the lovely roads we have in the States.

I’m looking forward to… seeing my clothes
I know, this is petty. But I do, I look forward to changing out my wardrobe, wearing more than plain long-sleeved shirts and less than attractive pants every day. The wardrobe I’ve had has worked great and suited its purpose… but it’ll be nice to have a little diversity!

I’m looking forward to… seeing some babies
I need to meet a few good friends’ new babies, and see a few who have probably doubled in size since Christmastime. I can’t wait to hold them!

I’m looking forward to… going to TNBS
TNBS stands for Tuesday Night Bible Study… as in the best Bible study I’ve ever been a part of and the group of people I consider my closest church home. I love being intimate enough to be called out on stuff, challenged to go deeper in my walk with Christ, trusted, prayed for, encouraged, and in turn doing the same for others. I know it’ll have changed but I can’t wait anyway!

I’m looking forward to… vacuuming???
Yeah, this one is really random. Although I am very impressed by the Arab cleaning style, I can’t keep up with all the sweeping and mopping. I constantly feel like my house is a mess. So yes, I look forward to vacuuming (or at least being able to)!

I’m looking forward to… Starbucks and Trader Joe’s
This is so embarrassingly American, but these are just a few places I enjoy enough that just going there changes my mood!

I’m looking forward to… Costco with Mom
Related, but I have so many memories from my childhood shopping with my mom and thinking of meals to prepare and parties to plan. Maybe my favorite part was when she’d let me get a huge ice cream for $1. For whatever reason, I still look forward to these trips!

Most of all, I look forward to seeing friends and family and spending time with them. It is my hope that this time in the States will serve to refresh and allow me to refocus before taking the next steps in my journey! I hope also that I can be an encouragement.


I have had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Shabat the last two Friday evenings with Israeli friends, which has been really fun. I mentioned in an earlier post that it is really neat to understand a little bit better what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper… just from observing a related tradition with bread and wine.

I really like this weekly tradition to have a special meal with family and friends and remember the provision of God, and to speak blessing to God and each other. Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth… My understanding is very dependent on what is explained due to my absolute lack of Hebrew. What I do understand has been really cool.

So thank you, Ronit, for the invitations, and for some good times with new friends.