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Camp Kimama Brings Israeli Camp Experience to the Berkshires

Half Moon Camp will host both day and overnight campers, aged 4-17, for exciting, innovative summer camp programs blending American and Israeli traditions

Vacationers flock to the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts each summer to enjoy breathtaking vistas, bucolic farmlands, thriving arts and theater scenes, and… shakshuka?

This summer, Camp Kimama, the biggest name in Israeli summer camps, is bringing some Tel Aviv flavor to New England with exciting, innovative Jewish summer camp programs. Half Moon, an iconic, century-old camp site located on 33 wooded acres on the shores of Lake Buel, will host hundreds of kids for a unique summer camp experience that incorporates Israeli culture with traditional American summer camp activities.

Team sports, cooking, canoeing, hiking, swimming, archery, and arts and crafts are just a handful of the activities Camp Kimama is offering at Half Moon this summer.

“Camp Half Moon is a staple of the Berkshires summer camp world and we are excited to add the Kimama touch to this iconic institution,” said Avishay Nachon, Camp Kimama’s CEO. “With a few improvements, we’re creating a modern, international summer camp that will inspire Jewish and non-Jewish campers alike.”

“This is a major moment for us,” Abby Levine, Half Moon’s director, added, “Camp Kimama was founded 18 years ago by a group of Israelis inspired by the American summer camp experience. Our programs became hugely popular in Israel and developed a unique style, blending American and Israeli culture. Now we’re bringing that special style back to the US.”

Levine, who has more than two decades of experience directing Jewish summer camp and educational programs, says Camp Kimama’s debut in the Berkshires could not come at a more important time for American kids. “Our campers have spent much of the past two years isolated indoors, so this is a critical time for them to have meaningful in-person interactions and develop close connections that will last a lifetime.” In order to maximize the social value of the Half Moon experience, the camp will be a “screen-free” zone, with no smartphones, tablets, or computers.

Half Moon will operate both day and overnight camps this summer. The day camps will be open to children ages 4 and up, while overnight camps will be available to campers ages 7 to 17. Overnight campers can choose between one, two, and three-week stays. For the parents of day campers, there are ample grownup activities available in the region, including dozens of world class restaurants, cultural institutions including museums and theaters, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

According to Camp Kimama’s website, a core part of their mission is to “offer solid instruction and the focus is on skill building and individual achievement. We believe that learning should be fun, safe, and challenging. Friendship is encouraged and opportunities for self-expression are offered through a variety of activities. Leadership roles and inter-camp competitions are offered in a variety of activity areas for those campers who wish to participate competitively. Weekly campfires offer an opportunity to recognize weekly accomplishments.”

Also, unlike other Jewish summer camps, Camp Kimama “fosters an unparalleled level of diversity,” according to Levine, with a core focus on Israel. “This year, Half Moon’s campers are expected to be one-third American, one-third Israeli, and one-third from Europe and elsewhere, including South America, Asia and Australia.” she said, “It’s going to be a deeply enriching experience for all of our campers who would otherwise likely only encounter peers from very similar backgrounds to theirs. It’s going to be a welcoming, all-embracing environment in which differences are celebrated. Children can be themselves, interact, and learn from each other.”

The diversity will not be limited to campers; all camp counselors, 21 years of age and older, will be Israelis who have each served in the army. The ratio of counselors to campers will be one-to-five.

Camp Kimama organizers hope the connections American campers build at Half Moon this summer will inspire them to join their new, international friends for Israeli and European programs in future years, which will enrich their experience even further. In addition to nine summer camp programs in Israel, all under the supervision of the country’s Ministry of Education, Camp Kimama operates camps in Italy, Spain, and Austria.

Jewish traditions, such as Kabalat Shabbat, will be celebrated in a fun, inclusive style. “Farm to table” food will be prepared by an expert Israeli chef and all dietary preferences and restrictions such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and certified Kosher, will be accommodated.

The camp costs $1,900 for one week, $3,800 for two weeks and $5,700 for three weeks.

For more information and to apply, click here.

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