Ontario: Kids taught decorum in Hebrew and English

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Thu Aug 3 14:34:13 UTC 2006

Leadership by the lake: Fun is just part of Camp Moshava

Kids taught decorum in Hebrew and English
Aug. 2, 2006. 01:00 AM

Ennismore, Ont.Even the best-laid plans melt away to a blazing sun. Cancel
the usual activities, declares Miriam Allman, director at Camp Moshava.
"On a hot day, our mission is to make sure everyone gets wet once," she
says. "It's hot today. It's just brutal." It's not the most daunting task,
considering Moshava finds itself, fortuitously, between a swimming pool
and a lake, in Ennismore, Ont. But while Allman arranges a major Popsicle
shipment and schedules swimming slots for 226 young campers, a girl takes
matters into her own hands and hurls a cup of cold water at her squealing

Moshava earns its Hebrew name honestly. "A place of settlement," it looks
more like a dusty town than a campsite. There's a little store, an arts
and crafts centre, even a daycare for counsellors and staff who have small
children. There's also a kind of bilingual language policy here. Many of
the children hail from as far as Israel; others strive to keep their
cultural heritage intact. So Hebrew is spoken, almost interchangeably with
English.  Signs are posted in both languages. Despite the summer smiles
and chirping children, Moshava's mission is clear: teaching fundamentals
like ethics, leadership and, of course, decorum.

"When something leaves your mouth," Allman says, "you can't get it back
again. I think you have to teach children that today." And, fittingly,
this seemingly model town strives to produce model citizens. "I certainly
hope when they leave camp, they can give back to the community they live
in," Allman says. Sometimes, minting leaders and thinkers and
community-minded youth takes a motherly approach a trait well practised
for Allman. "If you're a mother," she sighs. "It doesn't matter whose kids
they are."

Indeed, as she strolls through camp, she strikes a downright matriarchal
figure. "Where's your hat? Where's your hat? Where's your hat?" she chides
a boy walking up the road. Pointing to a traditional head covering, that
seems all but melted to his head, the boy replies, "I have a kippa." "I
know, but it won't protect you from the sun," Allman says. For some of
these kids, a wide blue sky and even that scorching sun are a luxury.
Moshava is one of 98 summer camps supported by the Toronto Star Fresh Air
Fund. The charity, in its 106th year, is aiming to send some 25,000
underprivileged kids to camp.

Miriam Bessin won't forget her first summer at Moshava. As a 9-year-old
she arrived for a four-week sojourn and got the lead role in the camp
drama before breaking her collarbone. "I fought to stay here," she says.
"In my sling." And she triumphed, although her starring role was not to be
"They gave it to a boy." Today, in her ninth summer, Bessin is a division
head at camp, taking charge of kids ages 10 and 11. Meanwhile, Allman is
still chiding her sun-scorched charges. "Where's your haa?!" She cuts
herself short, as a boy tips his cap to her. "It's an automatic yell,"
Allman admits. "I don't even look at you."


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list