Secular Zionist Summer Camps

Red hot American summer.

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The Future

Over the past decade, Habonim Dror has remodeled its operations--investing in long-term professional camp directors, strengthening camps' boards of directors, and raising significant capital from alumni. Hashomer Hatzair, almost a decade later, has also begun a significant shift toward professionalization, tougher strategy, and new special programs. In both movements, money is now largely managed by adults, but educational responsibilities remain in the domain of the camps' youth leadership.

The 1980s and 90s also saw a significant reduction in aliyah throughout the Jewish community, and among socialist and labor Zionists as well. As more youth movement graduates remained in North America, armed with leadership skills and characteristic idealism, more assumed leadership positions in the organized Jewish community. With a greater number of sympathetic administrators in top organizations, many movement members are anticipating a revival. The Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation are also helping to revive Jewish camping in general, and lending expertise to the secular Zionist camps as well. The camps, eager to curb their decline, have been looking to these more established organizations for help--in some ways compromising the ideal youth society in order to preserve it.

While the socialist and labor Zionist camps may find themselves in a tough position in the 21st Century, they also have hope for the future. As the Zionist movement has shown in the past, if they will it, it is no dream.

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Ariel Beery

Ariel Beery, co-director of PresenTense, is a boger magshim of Hashomer Hatzair of kvutzat Shomrat in the United States, and Garin Azmata in Israel.

Tal Beery

Tal Beery recently completed his tenure as director of Camp Shomria in Liberty, New York. He is a magshim of Hashomer Hatzair, and a member of an urban kibbutz in Brooklyn, NY.