Israel awash with activities for school parties
Jamie Nagioff, Gaby Cohen and Summer Swerner among the kayakers
Pupils from four Jewish secondary schools have returned home enthused by their participation in the UJIA summer trip.
Over 300 13- and 14-year-olds from JFS, King Solomon and Yavneh in London and King David in Manchester trekked across the Judean desert, climbed hills in the Galil and kayaked down the Jordan River.
But there was also a practical element to the programme, with volunteering projects in different areas. For example, Yavneh pupils cleared rubbish and created visitor-friendly zones around the northern tributaries of the Jordan.
Yavneh pupil Richard Reback said the trip had been markedly different to his previous visits to Israel. “The Jordan River volunteering was the best part for me.”
The mother of a JFS boy said: “The only other time I’ve ever heard him anywhere near as excited is when he talks about Arsenal.”
Avi Gillis of the schools department at UJIA Israel Experience said it was vital to give youngsters an early taste of Israel to whet appetites. “Hopefully they will follow up their year-nine experience with a month-long post-GCSE Israel tour — and then a gap year in Israel with a youth movement.”
King David group leader David Rose said that “every minute was exciting, enjoyable and meaningful. For the majority of students, this was their first visit to Israel. Their love for the land and people grew more and more each day. They certainly will remember the trip for the rest of their lives.”
The London groups stayed for a fortnight and the King David party for eight days, although KD plans to extend its visit next year.
To ensure that no one missed out on financial grounds, bursaries of varying amounts were provided to 20 per cent of the students.