Letter from 2017 Israel Trip Participants
Dear Solel 2017,
You’ve probably heard from a lot of SITs, staff members, and head staff about how amazing the SIT and Israel program is, but you seriously need to experience it yourself. Many of us on this trip were unsure about coming back to camp or going to a foreign country, but we promise you that every single one of us wouldn’t exchange this summer for literally anything. It’s so much more than just an “Israel trip”.
First of all, Israel…it’s incredible and unlike anything you’ve ever seen. To be in a country where everyone is Jewish and so dedicated to their country is truly special. Also, being here with camp friends is like Solel but on a new level. It’s camp with all of the cheers, laughs and memories, but in Israel. We say it’s a different country, but now all of us are calling Israel our second home and we’re set on the idea of coming back in the future. The second we saw our itinerary we all exploded inside, but actually going to the places blew our minds. We jumped down sand dunes, rode camels, stayed in Bedouin tents, hiked up Masada, visited the legendary Dead Sea, saw the Old City in Jerusalem, snorkeled in the Red Sea, chilled with Israeli host families, had nights out in the city, visited crazy Israeli markets, had Shabbat and Spirit Circle in the desert, and ate falafel that made us cry because it was so good. It’s cool to think about that unlike in America, where a building or Native American site is 500 years old, almost everything in Israel has been lived on for 3,000 years and is still thriving. Obviously, this sounds amazing and unlike anything you can do in America, but here we also developed new skill sets. At camp, we learned to take care of ourselves but being in a different country took it to a whole new level. We’ve learned to be even more independent, to make decisions without adults helping at every step, to work with all types of people, and we’ve gained appreciation for each other and our staff.
If you’re considering not coming to Israel because…
- You’ve already been to Israel, think again. It doesn’t feel like a repeat at all! Many of the people on our trip had already been here, but they say it’s different because you’re with your camp friends. Israel is a completely new trip every time you go, so keep going. Also, on previous trips, you were younger and now you’re 16 years old. Life has changed.
- You want to go with a different program like BBYO or IC Next. You’ve been going to camp for so long, and have trusted your camp experience for so long. Why not keep going? As a counselor, you can share the adventures with future campers in order to keep them coming back as well. You already know the camp kids and you will get even closer than you got in Solel. Also, you can meet new people from the other camp you might share a bus with, as well as people who went a different session than you as a camper. There are so many opportunities for bonding with new and old friends, and you also have the comfort of Camp Wise traditions with you throughout Israel.
- Too expensive! It’s definitively an expensive venture, but there are many scholarship opportunities through the Jewish Community and camp has already been a part of the budget anyways all of these years. If you will it, it is no dream!
- Too much time or want a summer job. You can always have a job in the future but you can’t always go to Israel with a teenage outlook or camp friends. As well, the trip doesn’t take up the entire summer so you still have time to chill in summer. It’s about the same time as another session of camp.
- You’re scared. We were too. But don’t be. This next summer has the potential to be the best summer of your life and that’s definitely something to be excited about.
If there’s any other reason why you wouldn’t come, our only advice is to PLEASE come. We literally had the time of our life and we want all of you to get that experience as well. Just like Solel, you won’t know exactly what we mean until you experience it. So just go experience it. You won’t regret it.
Now, the SIT program: All of us were crying wrecks on the last day of camp and we didn’t think it could get better than Solel or being a camper. Being on the staff side of things, though, is 10 times better than being a camper. We were terrified to have our own campers, to serve, and to lead activities as specialists. But by the end of camp, we were crying that we had to leave our campers, we fell in love with serving, and we were leading activities like ropes, arts and crafts, and teva as if we were actually staff members. SIT year is incredible because you have more independence and responsibility, and you get the best of both worlds by having some time for yourself as campers and some time to be staff. It’s also amazing how much you can impact the campers and how you can see how much they look up to you.
We combined sessions, spilled plates at least once a day, were exhausted, made amazing memories, cried and laughed together, became friends with staff, and saw camp from a completely new angle. This may seem corny, but we’re all even more in love with Camp Wise than we even thought possible.
Take a moment to think of the best staff member you ever had and how much they impacted your life. You still remember them even though it could have been 5 years ago and you’re still going to remember them 20 years from now. You may not have realized how much of an impact camp has had on you, but it’s mostly because of your staff. Don’t you want to change your campers’ lives and impact them like your staff impacted you? By being an SIT, you can learn how to become the best staff member in order to change your own life and the lives of future campers. The Israel trip next summer is the first step of you becoming that person for them.
Please come back to camp, you won’t regret it. We can’t wait to see you in 2018!
We serve you food, it tastes like heaven…SITs 2-0-1-7!