Korczakowo, here we come.
July 1, departure from Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv for Berlin. We met as a group in Terminal 1, got through baggage check-in without any problems and at 16:50 boarding commenced. We had to wait for take-off approval and at about 18:00 began the journey to Berlin. The flight was uneventful apart from Bar who towards the end of the flight decided to be sick on-board.
Soon after landing we met our driver, loaded our baggage and began the +/- 2 hour journey to the camp-site.
What a wonderful feeling to arrive and to be greeted by the camp chief Beata, head of the camp Iwona, Michael and Avada, some of the counselors and some of the camp participants. For those of us returning to Korczakowo it felt like they were there “welcoming us home.”
It was now well past midnight. Before we knew what was happening the luggage of the girls was taken to their respective tents and they too were off to sleep. Batia settled down in her caravan and I settled in to my tent.
It was a freezing first night.
Today was our first full day at camp. We were all up and about at 8:00, breakfast at 9:00 (fresh rolls, bread, cheese, jam, tomatoes with green-onions, hot tea and hot chocolate.) This was followed by a general clean-up of the camp site and preparing the camp for the activities that will take place in the following 3 weeks. We have all received our name-tags and now await the official opening which will be tonight. Lunch was served at 14:00 – soup, spaghetti -bolognaise and a raspberry flavored drink. Nap time and at 16:00 we all received a banana. The afternoon activity was geared to getting to know the camp facilities and the different attractions. The activities were prepared and activated by some of the participants and at the same time the group taught their colleagues key words in Hebrew: gate, shower, toilet, memorial site, fire-place, … The activities ended when all the 95 participants gathered on the sports field for fun-games.
When the sun set, the entire camp gathered at the lake-side for the opening camp ceremony. The theme was based on the four ingredients: earth, water, air and fire which was displayed by the participants. From the lake-side everyone followed the torch bearers to the opening space at the Korczak memorial site where we formed a semi-circle. One by one, Beata the camp chief placed the “Husta” (the green camp scarf with the Korczakowo emblem) round each camp participant’s neck. The ceremony ended with the placing of a bouquet of flowers to represent life at the foot of the Korczak memorial (the first of its kind in the world), placing a lantern to represent the light of Korczak’s legacy to us all and finally Bar G. placed a stone as a symbol of rememberance. The day ended with quiet singing round the fire-side.
The team have acclimatized and are well liked. It is good to see them wandering around smiling, enjoying this, the beginning of a new experience in their lives.
Batia Gilad (Chairperson of the IKA) and Avi Tsur (The Korczak Educational Institute of Israel)
First impressions of the” Israeli Team”
Those who have returned (Bar x2): It was exciting to return, to meet up with friends and to relive and once again to experience the special camp-life and atmosphere.
Those who came for the first time (Liya and Inbar): We were very excited to come to the camp after hearing so many stories from Bar/Bar. At first we were curious as we did not as yet know anyone but by the end of the day we had already made friends and we believe and feel that every day will be even better.
About the ceremony, for all of us this was our first here at camp. It was a very different ceremony to what we are used to, not very verbal. The audience felt connected and showed lots of respect for the occasion and the performers. The seriousness and quiet was a kind of culture shock for us, very impressive, something we can learn from.