Summer camp hosts exchange with German-Jewish youngsters
American teens at Pinemere Camp learned this summer that their German peers like the same music, sports, and camp activities as they do.
This summer, 25 Jewish teens from Germany, ages 12-15, came to the second session of the Jewish camp in the Poconos under an arrangement suggested by the umbrella organization of Germany’s Jewish communities.
Pinemere director Toby Ayash said she received a phone call from a representative of the youth department of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. He suggested the arrangement, and Ayash jumped at the opportunity.
The European kids have been fully integrated into camp life, with three to four per bunk. In addition to the regular camp program, they enjoyed day trips to New York, Philadelphia, and Camel Beach Water Park, plus a fourth day spent shopping at a nearby outlet mall. “I think that the most exciting trip for them was the shopping trip,” quipped Ayash.
And they had a few surprises. In Germany, campers are not required to be at specific activities the way American campers are. And the German kids were “shocked” to learn they would share living quarters with their counselors, according to Ayash.
The arrangement did not end with the German teens’ departure on Aug. 12; this December, 25 Pinemere campers will join their German buddies in the ski village of Fuerstenhof in Natz in the Italian Alps. Several New Jersey kids will be among the group, including Mallory Friedlander of Princeton Junction and Grant Kaufman of Titusville.
“All of the campers are learning about their cultural differences and similarities,” said Ayash, who will accompany the group to Italy during winter break.