By Leora Mazurovsky
I was 22 years old when we
moved to Israel. I was the oldest of six with four very much younger
siblings. In the ensuing years, I watched with something approaching envy
as they went off to a week of camp each summer. The camps changed as the
kids grew. First there was the kid's camp, then "Souled Out" camps
and later the Katzir camps. When they were too old to attend as campers
they went back as counselors. I was so proud of them and still a little
bit jealous. I had never gotten to go to anything like this when I was
growing up. My brothers and sisters didn't realize it at the time,
but they were part of something much bigger than just a fun few days away
from their home and parents. Those annual summer camps, attended by kids
from all over Israel were a place where God created a network of fledgling
believers who are now in their 20's and are serving God throughout
Israel and the world.
In 2007 I sent off another little camper - my six year old daughter. She
was attending a newly established summer camp - Camp Reshet (Camp
Network), set up to provide a week of fun and spiritual instruction for
the children of our congregational network. It was the brainchild of Eitan
and Pastor David McQueen of Beltway Park Baptist Church in Texas. The
hands on administrators were Pastor Randy from Beltway and my mom, Katya
(our Shabbat School director). That first year was a success and
we've been "camping" every year since.
Our wonderful volunteers feeding the masses
Katya sees the camp as an extension of our ministry to the kids and
families in our congregation. She said, "I knew it would be a lot of work,
but I thought that a camp like this would be good because it would give us
an additional opportunity to connect to the kids outside of a Shabbat
school setting. The kids already know many of their counselors and each
other. It creates a more intimate experience, almost like a family outing.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the camp has also enabled us to
train our teenagers to serve as counselors."
Camp Reshet has a special additional feature. Each year, Pastor Randy
brings almost 30 volunteers with him (the majority from Beltway Baptist),
some of them returning year after year. These brave and generous
individuals serve as handcraft teachers, baseball coaches, English
teachers, kitchen staff and much more. The volunteers make our camp more
than a congregational network camp. They connect us to the wider body of
believers, serving our community with "practical love" and introducing the
children to the concept of an international family of faith.
This year, instead of waving my kids off to camp, I got to go too. Forty
is perhaps a bit old to be a camper, but I enjoyed the experience
nevertheless. Katya was unable to come due to health reasons and so she
handed the administration baton to me. I was honored and blessed to be
able to serve in this unique setting alongside brothers and sisters from
Israel and America.
Piling hats on a counselor
Playing Twister during "Silly Games" time
Here are testimonials from some of the wonderful people that I was
privileged to work with:
"I've grown up going to kids camps and I remember looking up to my
counselors and how much fun I had. Me being there as a counselor gives me
the opportunity to provide that experience for other kids as well."
Fellowship around the fire
"I was just BLOWN away by the fact that God used people halfway around the
world, from a different culture and that I never expected to meet, to show
me things and answer prayers. I feel I was truly blessed by the fellowship
between the American believers and Israeli believers. From this I received
a greater understanding of the fellowship and unity that God desires for
His children and how purely pleasant it is!"
"I've been a counselor at children's camps all over the world and
have never experienced such an overwhelming power from the Spirit
radiating from children like I did at this camp - completely breathtaking.
It actually made me jealous for the LORD in new ways."
"I love that language does not have to be a barrier to express and show the
"The reason I come back again and again is because God has given me a
charge to love and encourage the future of Israel. When I see these kids,
I see leaders that will not only be placed in strategic positions in the
Israeli culture, but these are also the people who will be used greatly by
God to draw His people back to him through the lives they live. I feel a
little guilty as I get so much more from camp than I ever give. I love
being a part of something so amazing!"
Singing the camp song all together
"Our children, have returned from the children's summer camp put on
for all the network congregations. They were filled with a right spirit
and refreshed after making new friends and having new experiences. They
had the opportunity to fellowship with one another as well as with other
children and youth from believing families throughout Israel. The children
experienced an awaking in the area of worship. This is a real answer to
(Guy Cohen, Katzir Asher Congregation in Akko)
These quotes sum up the heart of Camp Reshet. It is our desire that as we
serve each other and the kids in work and play, God will fulfill His
purposes in all of our lives, creating a true Kingdom Network.