HDCA Newsletter – July 2022

Shehechiyanu for Summer 2022 by Tamar Levi, HDNA Shlicha

Dear HDCA Readers,

This May marked our first in-person movement-wide seminar. I will leave it up to the Mazkirut to share with you more about the seminar, but I was struck by a feeling of loss. It was an overwhelmingly joyful seminar, as we delighted in all of the classic seminar experiences: late-night conversations with new friends, discovering new movement happenings, learning new rikudei-am from each other, arguing in a friendly way and feeling a sense of connectedness as a movement.
The sense of loss came from reflecting on what two years of COVID restrictions have done to our communities, and how much work we still have to do: connecting to each other, renewing traditions, rebuilding trust and reinventing ourselves for a changed world. With that in mind, I wanted to offer a shehechiyanu (prayer for new beginnings) for all of you in the upcoming summer as you engage in the crucial job of supporting the machanot.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

The shecheyanu is recited both for new beginnings, and for “firsts” that occur yearly in the Jewish calendar (the first night of Hanukkah, for example). For most of us, camp is as important a part of our Jewish calendar as any other holiday and its disruption in the summer of 2020 makes it feel all the more special that we are embarking on another, more traditional summer for 2022. I hope the chanichimot who are going to camp to experience the magic of Habonim Dror understand how truly lucky they are to have “arrived at this moment” after so much of what we have taken for granted was thrown into question.

I was very fortunate during my years on tzevet Miriam to work with the wonderful Camp Committee Chair Alisa Bowman, of blessed memory. She told me that when the kids were loaded onto the buses, she took a deep breath and didn’t let it out until the buses came back two months later. As you all take those deep breaths and give over your trust to the youth leadership of camp, may we all feel the blessing of having arrived at this particular moment. And may you continue to be blessed in your work supporting and guiding the machanot of Habonim Dror.

Alehu v’hagshimu!


Machaneh Round-Up by Sharon Waimberg, HDCA co-chair

When I was ED at Camp Galil I was asked over and over… You run a summer camp, what in the world do you do the rest of the year? And then, depending on who was asking, I’d launch into a litany of year-round tasks that are integral and critical to creating a magical and impactful  7 or 8 short weeks for our chanichimot.  And I didn’t do it alone.

Each and every one of us, volunteer or professional, invests significant resources year-round to work together to make our machanot happen every year.   The work can be tedious and frustrating but the pay-off comes each year when our tzevet arrives for chalutz and our machanot begin.

I always felt so very lucky to be part of such a vibrant inspiring community and while it’s true that we all can’t be on-site this summer – we wanted to give you all a little peek into summer 2022 at HDNA machanot so far.


Machaneh Gesher:  Gesher’s mazkirut reports that everything at Gesher is going amazingly so far. All the chanichimot are loving the brand new water toy that was purchased this year. 






Machaneh Miriam:  This is our first full summer back at machaneh on Gabriola Island. We are all very excited to create and experience machaneh magic once again beside the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful evergreen trees. Through COVID, we started a new program called SODO (Solelimot Derech) for the grade 10s because Canadians could not go on MBI. We decided to continue this program this upcoming summer as well. SODO chanichimot will have a 10-day process following MBI – a substantial amount of time at camp – and will discuss their position in the movement, at the ken, and at machaneh over the next year.



Machaneh Galil:  We did our own veida on July 4th to celebrate a real democratic process, where we decided to donate a portion of each kvutza’s kupa to tzedeka. Yesterday we had Yom Tzedek, which was Food Justice themed where we participated in peulot and chuggim about rights for fast food workers, food deserts, and factory farming. Today we went to JRA and packed boxes for people in the greater Philadelphia area experiencing food insecurity.

Follow along with the rest of our summer at the Galil summer blog


Machaneh Moshava:  Chanichimot (campers) spend time with their shikvah (age group) each day to have a fun educational activity and discussion. Each day kids talk about different things such as consent, collectivism, labor and more.  The youngest Mosh campers (Nitzanimot) have arrived as well!

Follow along with the rest of the Mosh summer here:  Moshava Summer Blog



Machaneh Tavor: Kids working in the Chava (farm) at Tavor get to spend some time around the goats, and typically help out with weeding and maintenance. It’s a peaceful and meaningful avodah where our campers learn to grow vegetables, understand composting, and get an overall education about environmental justice and Jewish roots in working the land.





Machaneh Gilboa: Summer 2022 has begun! Every session, the chuggim change depending on what madrichimot (counselors) are excited to lead. We always make sure there are a variety of chuggim that speak to different kids’ needs, energy levels, and interests. This session, the chuggim include messy fun, animal sports, girl band, murals and more!


We hope you will  follow our summer at Big Bear at the Camp Gilboa Summer Blog.


MBI   by Ben Markbreiter, HDNA Rakazol Tochniot

The MBI-ers left North America for Israel on Thursday, June 30th.  MBI this summer has 79 participants representing every machaneh, with over 10 participants from each of 5 of the 6 machanot.  Some highlights from MBI this summer include the classics, such as going to Masada and the Old City, but also meeting with Druze members of Habonim Dror’s sister movement Hanoar Haoved veHalomed. MBIers will also join  Israeli Jewish teens for a week of joint travel and programming.
This is our largest MBI program since MBI 2018, and we couldn’t be more excited for Kvutzah 74 to experience Israel through a Habonim Dror lens.  We hope they have loads of fun, and we can’t wait to see them when they come back for machaneh next summer!





Let’s Support Our Camping Professionals This Summer by Alisa Belinkoff Katz, HDCA Co-Chair

At a June 27 meeting of Jewish camp movement heads sponsored by the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the following was noted:

  • The weight of this summer is enormous for full time/year round camp professionals and senior leaders.

There was an expectation and understanding that Summer 2021 was going to be difficult and they experienced stakeholder empathy, generous financial support, and appreciation for opening after a summer without camp. 

This summer, camp pros are receiving less support and increased expectations from their community. Few professionals really recovered from Summer 2021 and now are managing their own medical committees, parent and staff opinion, increased threats to physical and psychological safety. Managing all this and more is weighing on camp professionals. 

Camp professionals are challenged with decisions about visitors, policies, short term programs, and more.

As Habonim Dror camp board members, chairpersons and friends, let’s do what we can to provide meaningful support to our camping professionals this summer.  If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Mazkirol Erica Kushner: mazkir@habonimdror.org

Ma’apilimot Seminar 2022  by Erica Kushner, Mazkirol

From May 26-30 HDNA ran our first in-person movement-wide seminar in over two years. Forty participants registered for the seminar, which was a number we were happy with given that the movement is out of practice gathering in-person. The seminar was built around the concept of going back to basics, and understanding why we have seminars and engage in educational processes in the first place. We met, and exceeded, the goals with regards to the educational experience and the chinuchi (educational) content. Participants communicated being highly satisfied with the programming overall, and specifically rated it one of the most impactful elements of the seminar.. They found it to be engaging, relevant, and significant in their preparation and process pre-Summer.

This seminar absolutely fulfilled the goals of allowing ma’apilimot from across the movement, who came with an extremely varied array of experiences in the movement, to feel responsible and empowered in creating the seminar. The post-workshoppers led multiple programs, Tzevet Higui was responsible for a chevrati, and 4 out of 6 machanot brought workshops about concepts that they wanted to bring to the rest of the movement.

This seminar had a positive impact on its participants, and we implore all of you to recruit your communities to attend movement seminars. These seminars allow for leadership development, social connections and support, idea sharing, and deepening ideology. The participants left the seminar feeling  not only more connected to the movement – even for individuals who came having never attended a movement seminar before – but more connected and excited to be on tzevet at their machanot this summer.

Introducing “Reshet MESSH” – HDCA’s Mental Health Initiative

Like many camping organizations, Habonim Dror faces numerous mental health challenges with both staff and campers.  In response, HDCA has created a Mental Health Va’ad (Committee) and introduced a number of initiatives:

  • We convened a communications channel uniting mental health staff at all the machanot including professionals, melavolimot (camper care staff) and members of camp mazkiruyot who deal with mental health issues. This “Reshet MESSH” (“reshet” being the Hebrew word for network, and MESSH standing for MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, and SPIRITUAL HEALTH) met virtually in early June and will be able to consult each other through a google group as issues arise over the course of this summer.  New members are welcome, so send us names and email addresses of camp personnel who could benefit from participating in Reshet MESSH.
  • We identified an organization called LEAD (“Let’s Empower, Advocate and Do”) which was founded by a group of high school students in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy of 2012. LEAD is now a well-regarded non-profit mental health education group that works with youth-serving institutions including summer camps.  They offer mental health training for summer camp staffs culminating in the award of “Camp Mental Health Certification.”  In May, HDCA assisted several machanot in providing LEAD training/certification to appropriate staff members, and in June, LEAD trained Gesher’s entire staff!  Reports from HD personnel attending these sessions are very positive.

  • LEAD also offers a “Train the Trainer” program which we hope to utilize in 2022-23. Stay tuned!
  • We  have created a google drive for sharing resources with folders for Health, Mental Health, Drug & Alcohol Policies and other issues of concern. We invite each machaneh to share its best practices with the movement by sending us documents to include.


Welcome Tyson RobertsGilboa’s Incoming Board Chair 

After several years of successful leadership, having survived COVID and expanded both camp and year-round enrollment, Julie Macht Beenhouwer has turned over the chairmanship of the Camp Gilboa Board of Directors to Tyson Roberts.  Thank you, Julie and Baruch Haba, Tyson!

Tyson did not grow up in Habonim but spent six months in Israel during college, taking an ulpan at Kibbutz Bet HaEmek (British Habonim) and studying at Haifa University.  He loved the kibbutz vibe and later volunteered at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu.  When searching for a summer camp for their children, he and his wife Naomi came across Gilboa and were attracted by its similarity to kibbutz living.  His daughters began attending Gilboa in 2015, and this summer Edie, 15, will be going on MBI while Shoshana, 18, will be a first-time tzevet member.

Professionally, Tyson is a Lecturer in Political Science at UCLA where he researches African Politics, International Political Economy, and Authoritarian Institutions.  He has long experience in Africa:  between 1995 and 1997 he served in the Peace Corps as a Rural Community Development Volunteer in  Benin where he worked with local partners to fund a goat-raising cooperative, establish a girls’ vocational training center, and organize a microcredit program, among other efforts.  Back home in L.A. he’s been active in refugee assistance work. For example, he co-chaired the Los Angeles Jews for Refugees Assembly (https://www.jcari-la.org/assembly-event) in 2018, which included a teen voter pre-registration program run by Camp Gilboa Bonimot Tzedek members.

As a Gilboa board member since 2018, Tyson has worked on marketing and fundraising.  Most recently he’s served as Chair of the Master Plan Committee which aims to expand camp’s capacity to service its growing enrollment and, potentially, to produce off-season income.  The Master Plan includes new healthcare and activities buildings, senior staff housing, an expanded chadar ochel and additional bathrooms.  Architects and engineers are working on plans and permits, and the capital campaign will begin this fall.

Tyson’s goals as Chair include improving programming and professionalizing back-office operations so that the organization can grow and mature.  Welcome to HDCA, Tyson!  We look forward to working with you in the months ahead.

Habonim Dror in the News

Sleepaway Camps Are In Demand As Parents Try To Get Their Kids Away From Screens

by Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer  June 21, 2022


We hope you’ll enjoy this article referencing Habonim Dror Camp Galil that was originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The article was then picked up by other newspapers around the US, without a paywall, so we have posted it here from NNY 360.  Make sure you scroll through all 4 photographs!


Habonim Dror’s sister movement in Israel, Dror Israel,  found a way to make tangible impact in the lives of Ukrainian refugee children in Poland.

This article on jewishboston.com tells the story.