This is my article for the Jewish Repot Newspaper:
Netzer Machaneh Shirat ha Yam-Inspiration in a Nutshell
By: Kathryn Henning
The theme of this years Machaneh (Camp) was "Song of the Sea- Inspire our Journey". We spent the better part of our two week camp in Cape Town learning and doing, in true Netzer style.
We explored our heritage through abstract means like music and nature. Other times adopting a more "practical" aproach learning through torah texts, pieces of literature or as our youngest age group - Geshem - did it, making cool beards and becoming Rabbis. We learnt about the song which Miriam and the women sang as the Isralites escaped their harsh lives in egypt. We learnt about South African politics, and different means of protest all over the world. We learnt about the importance of making informed decisions before acting on them and how to live as a community, where everybody has equal rights and responsibilities.
As soon as the sun was shining bright and the wind died down we would all put on our swimming costumes and sunblock, grabbed our towles and headed to the little beach down the road to relax and made sandcastles, while the more energetic ones played soccer or other fun games. No matter how cold the water was, you knew all the kids from Gauteng would swim until they could't swim anymore.
Shabbat on camp is a whole new expirience for some of our Channichim. We spend Friday getting ready for the service, preparing our little Shul in "Jerusalem" and decoraing the Chaderochel (Mess Hall). Shabbat morning is a little different from the other days on camp. We have a creative and inspirational service and learn about the torah portion for that week. The relaxing atmosphere on camp is a great way to rejuvinate and welcome in a new and intense week of camp.
Don't get us wrong, its not all learning and no fun!
Throughout the course of Machaneh, we have theme days.
Along with Visitors Day, where our Channies showcase their Dancing skills, Accapella Singing and some Survival Tips wich they had been working on throughout the camp in our Chuggim Sessions, We have Israel Day. Where our trusty Mishlachat (Israelie Embassadors) dont dissapoint. They pull out all the stops for a fantastic day. Shakshukah laidened plates and eager faces watch as the Israelie Madrichim sing and play music in the Chaderochel. Our "inflight" entertainment. A day filled with learning about all-things-Israel ensues. A crowded shuk, a tent protest and israelie dancing gives us just a taste of what Israels all about. We cant forget about Tikkun Day! Each age group takes part in a little social action, helping out in the community doing some volunteering at animal shleters or orphanages. We do Tikkun Olam (Repairing the world) projects throughout the year as a part of Netzers ideology.
Right in the middle of our jam-packed Machaneh we had Channies Day. A day where the oldest age group - Keshet - take over being madrichim for a day. Running camp and peulot (activities) that they had written for the younger age groups. The day left Keshet feeling exhausted, the Maddies well rested and the Channies wanting more.
The highlight of camp, our much anticipated Colour Wars.
Coloured face paint was what defined you that day. There were no friends. There were no enemies. There was only one goal. Ruach, Gees, Spirit. Those were the rules. Colour wars had begun, the final say left to the Judges, dressed only in white. Only they could determine the winner, and there would be only one winner.
The Blue Team had what it takes this year... Who will win next?
Camp would not be complete without our Tiyul (hike) where we had a mid morning sandwich on the rocks looking over the sea and were treated to Talya Davidoffs hiking expertiese. She knows everything you need to know about Cape Towns biome and gives us a little insight as to where we are and what-plants-are-where on all our hikes.
Life at Machaneh is really something rare and special. Something you cant really describe. The friendships, the jokes, the hopes and the deams that we as the youth of our nation, not only in South Africa but as the young generation of Jewish people in the world create or develope whilst in this environment can only be described as a "You have to be there" moment. This camp was no different. We've got big ideas and we're not afraid to use them.
We danced, we sang, we learned, we did and we got up on that soap box and fought for what we believed in! Netzers' changing the world, one camp at at time.
"While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Nostalgically, Kathryn What?