Saying Goodbye / by Aaron Mandel, Camp Tawonga

TSL Families,

The group has had an amazing past few days, putting quite a few kilometers under their wheels as they’ve traveled from the far north of the country all the way down to the Negev Desert in the south. 

After concluding their time with the Israeli Tawonga campers from the north the group headed southwest to the Haifa area where they went to Shorashim for a day of learning and dialogue on Arab-Israeli relations.  The day started with some historical background and an activity showing maps and border changes over the past centuries and also included meeting up with some Arab-Israeli teens the same age as the TSL group for a session of questions and dialogue.  The group then traveled to Piki’in, a predominantly Druze village where they enjoyed a magnificent feast and some learning about the mysterious Druze religion.  The day concluded in Haifa with a visit to the spectacular Bahai gardens and lots of new perspectives on the multiple faiths that Israel’s Jewish majority shares the land with.

From Haifa the group traveled south down the coast to Tel Aviv for a day in the urban hub of the country.  There was some free time for shopping and perusing in the shuk, or market, and lots of relaxing on the beach in the center of the city on the Mediterranean Sea.  The group finished the day by driving into the magical Negev Desert where they spent the night.

After the Negev night, the group had a “Negev: Unplugged” tour with Bustan, a Bedouin rights organization.  This proved to be a really eye-opening day for the group as they learned about Bedouin life in Israel historically and in present day and visited both recognized and unrecognized villages.  The group really began to appreciate and realize the fact that on this trip they have seen and done things that most tourists, tour groups and even Israelis don’t get to do or see.

The group then climbed the historic Mt. Masada and got a guided tour of the story of the Jewish Zealots who left their mark there.  After descending Masada they visited the Ein Gedi spring and took a dip in some waterfalls and pools to cool off before heading to the Dead Sea, the lowest land on the planet for some floating and mud bathing, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

For the past 4 weeks your teens have been on a journey through Israel where they’ve spent two weeks working on a service project in the community of Yavne and traveled to some of Israel’s most famous sights, as well as some off-the-beaten path treasures. 

Along the way, these teens have brought the Tawonga spirit with them and engaged in some world and life-changing work.  At the end of their trip, the group is now at Camp Tawonga to relax and process their experience amongst the peacefulness of the tall, tall trees.

This group of teens has been fantastic – thank you for sharing them with us!

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