The latest news from Israel is coming from Eilat and my camp in Arad. Eilat is a resort town on the southern most tip of Israel, so there wasn't a whole lot to do educational or anything, but it was gorgeous. We spent Thursday night through Saturday evening there. Much of the day was spent swimming in the Red Sea and lounging on the beach. Across the Red Sea I could clearly see Jordan.
By far the most memorable part of the trip was staying up to watch the sunrise over the mountains in Jordan. It was absolutely incredible. Once again, I have pictures that I will send out, but I doubt it will do it justice.
Another thing that has happened is camp has started. I worked 3 days already (Sunday is a work day in Israel) and I already love it. It is funny because everyone told my that Israeli kids are totally different from American kids. The way I see it, they are almost exactly the same. I have fourth graders and as long as they are entertained they are fabulous (as soon as they get bored it is very difficult...much like at home).
The hardest past about teaching them is that the whole camp is inside a science center. There is very little room to run around, and since we are in the desert it is not advised to take them outside for a long time. This is a huge challenge considering all my game ideas were for outside, but I like the challenge.
The first day went really well. We played a competitive game that all the kids liked. The second day was more of an art project with parts of the body. That did not go so well. I guess I learned that competition is a large driving factor here. Lesson learned.
On an individual basis the kids are a lot like my camp kids back home. The girls are very affectionate and the boys are a bunch of rabble-rousers. I have every basic kind of kid that I have back home. I have the ring-leader of the boys who is great when you talk to him one-on-one, but he loves causing trouble in the group. I also have the boys that follow him, the clingy girls, the whiny boy, and the girl who loves the boys. It is really funny how similar kids are on the other side of the world. Almost every kid I have here reminds of someone from JCC camp.
One thing that is very different from JCC camp is the language barrier. Only one of my kids here speaks English fluently, just about everyone else just only speaks Hebrew (I can talk to a few of my kids in Spanish because they are from Argentina). This makes things very difficult, but it is really fun.
Almost all of the kids try really hard to communicate in the little English they know, and I try really hard to use what little Hebrew I know. Over the past three days I have gotten a lot better. When I think about it, it is shocking how much better my Hebrew has gotten. I can understand a fair amount of what is said, even with my limited vocabulary. I can't wait to see where I am at the end of camp.
My free time in Arad is greatly enjoyed. Not going to lie, a lot of the afternoon is spent sleeping because of the heat and the lack of things to do in the day. When the sun starts to go down everyone starts coming out. My favorite thing to do here is all the sports (and by all the sports I mean basketball and soccer). There is a lit court with soccer goals and basketball nets. So far I have played basketball with the Ethiopians I live with and soccer with mostly Israelis. Both experiences were amazing. It is funny how little girls play sports here. When I first came out you could see the shock in their face that a girl was playing with them. By the end of the night I was getting pats on the back just like some of the boys. It's a good feeling earning respect and such.
The play here is very animated (particularly with soccer). Whenever you make a good move of score a goal there is lots of clapping and cheering (and the occasional playful taunting). I absolutely love it. That's all for now. Can't wait to see you all!
Lila Tov, Julie