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Woohoo, it’s off to camp we go!




Channichim of both Habonim and Bnei Akiva, geared up this week for the long-awaited opportunity to pack their trunks and head for their respective campsites, and their excitement was infectious.

In anticipation of their departure next week, Habonim channichim dropped their trunks off in the Oxford Shul parking lot on Tuesday for loading and transport to Hermanus. The pouring rain made the process particularly trying, with people taking shelter beneath two small canopies. The organisers and campers contended with water, wind and weighty luggage and, it was clear, that not even the wet weather could put a damper on their spirits.

“I can’t wait to get away from home. I’m not worried about anything, except maybe the sharks,” said Devon Edelstein, 13, who was dropping off his trunk to go on camp for the first time. Sharing his enthusiasm is his 16-year-old sister Montana, who, despite having been twice before, is thrilled to be joining friends who she says feel just like family to her.

Dani Niv (14), Jemma Meintjies (16) and Jesse Bloch (15) recall their first camp and how their initial anxieties about making friends, were quickly allayed, and now they look forward to forging new friendships.

Seventeen-year-old Benji Levine is heading for Habonim camp for the last time as a channich, but he so loves the experience that he is considering returning as a madrich in 2018. “Both my parents went to Habonim camp, and I think it would be great to give back to the movement as a maddie next year.”

Despite the water restrictions imposed in Cape Town and Hermanus, campers say they are willing to do whatever it takes to make the most of their experiences. Some are even willing to “turn and wear their underwear inside out” if the need arose, says Habo Debbie Illouze, as she turns to assist a camper with his baggage.

The same excitement was palpable at OR Tambo International on Wednesday morning among Bnei Akiva channichim, as they prepared to board their flights to George. Sorted into four punctiliously arranged groups, students eagerly awaited their boarding passes while whispering excitedly to their friends about their plans for camp.

A number of tearful farewells were said as children said goodbye to their parents, but faces were dry and bright as the groups moved towards the boarding gates.

Concerning themselves with the well-being of others, cousins Sarah (10) and Shira (11) Kahanowitz explained how they make an effort to cheer up anyone who seems to be missing home during their short stay as junior Gurim channichim. “It’s way too short, but it’s a chance to sleep in tents and have fun, so everyone must enjoy it.”

Others were a little more anxious, and had some reservations about leaving home. Going on camp for the first time, Noah Levin (13) spoke of how he is not looking forward to long bus rides or walking some distance across the campsite to shower. However, at the mention of the “raucous camp ruach” by his classmates Jesse Feigenbaum, Noah Leibowitz, Jonathan Hazi and Yoni Porter, he appeared to calm down substantially.

In a show of this ruach, Moshe Lurie (11) announced he felt “pumped” just to be at the airport, and was joined by his friends Shalom Josselson and two first-time campers, Yoni Hurwitz and Adir Lurie. “There is a tap that gives us all the juice we want, and the cereal they give us for breakfast is awesome. There are no screaming mothers anywhere. Who could ask for anything else?” asked Lurie.

If the enthusiasm felt and the sentiments expressed are any indication, channichim of both movements are in for experiences they will all remember for years to come.

Netzer was not included in this article because they only leave next week.


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