Campers that have risen through the ranks of Young Judaea camps graduate with a strong Jewish identity and a love of Israel. Through the National Young Judaea program, high school graduates can spend a gap year in Israel before they begin traditional college. It is an amazing opportunity and adventure for young people to travel abroad and experience Israel in a way that only living there can provide.
Max Webb, who was a camper at CYJ for 9 summers and a counselor this past summer, wrote to us about his experience this year on Year Course:
Young Judaea Year Course has been the best decision of my life. After high school I was exhausted and ready for something new. I knew that if I went to college right away that I would just burn out, and I needed an adventure to change the pace of everyday life. What could be more of a change than packing up your bags and moving across the world for a year?
Every day on Year Course is something new and amazing. I feel like I’m living the Zionist dream that I learned to love while growing up in Young Judaea. Every day I wake up in our country, Israel. I’m able to live a Jewish life every day while experiencing this amazing land for all it has to offer. In the two months we’ve been here I’ve traveled to every corner of Israel, exploring new and exciting things every day. From the Western Wall to the Galilee, I see things that make me love this country more and more every day.
Right now I live in a city called Bat Yam, a southern suburb of Tel Aviv. Bat Yam is a poorer community, so while we live here we spend our time volunteering. I am an English teacher in a local elementary school. By volunteering, we are not just helping people, but we are also becoming a part of the local Bat Yam community. This immersive experience has made Year course incredibly impactful and given me the chance to experience Israel like a local.
I wouldn’t be on Year Course if it weren’t for my experience in Young Judaea, and more importantly, CYJ. Starting as a 10-year-old camper in Tsofim, CYJ was the place where I learned to love Israel. Every summer I learned more and more about why I love Israel, and I knew that one day I wanted to experience it. I also made lifelong friends at CYJ. These friends and I stuck together through camp, even going to Camp Tel Yehudah together. There we made more friends, many of whom travelled to Israel on Young Judaea’s Machon summer trip. I’m happy to say that my best CYJ friends are here with me on Year Course.
Going on Year course was the best decision of my life. In the two months I’ve been here I’ve already learned more about myself and the world around me than ever before. With seven more months ahead, I’m so excited for what’s to come!