By Risa Mond, Plano Texas Summer; a time for people…
It’s been a busy summer for CTeen Headquarters, with three camps around the world running simultaneously; CTeen Xtreme, Heritage Quest, and new this year, a winter camp in Brazil for CTeen’s Latin American delegations. The camp, which was hosted in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and run by Rabbi Chai Kohan, director of Merkos Spanish division, served as part of CTeen’s initiative to bring the energy and Chayus of the world renowned organized to a larger, world wide audience.
The five day trip took the teens—who hailed from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Argentina—to some of Brazil’s best and most exciting locations, including the International Soccer Museum in Sao Paulo, a world famous soccer stadium, rafting and more. For many of the teen participants, camp served as an opportunity for them to experience Judaism like never before. Learning and Torah classes were a staple part of each day; the teens were excited and always ready to learn and be inspired by the lesson of the day.
In addition to the thrilling moments that each day offered, campers were also given an opportunity to give back to the local communities. Upon arrival, the campers were taken to the local Ten Yad, an organization that offers food and shelter for Brazil’s homeless. There, they bagged lunches and prepared meals for the homeless, which they then delivered on erev Shabbos. The project garnered plenty of attention within the local community, including from the mayor’s wife.
As one of the parents shared: “My son has not stopped talking about what a wonderful time he had at camp. Now his brothers wish they had gone with him!”
Many teens shared that their favorite part of the trip was Friday night, during a farbrengen led by one of the shluchim from Argentina, who farbrenged about the importance of incorporating Judaism into their daily lives. This message was driven home on Shabbat morning during Kriyah, when each of the seven chapters were given an aliyah to the Torah. However, instead of pledging money, they pledged mitzvos. Each chapter pledged a year long hachlata that they would take on together, such as davening each day or donning tefillin.
“Watching the teens take on hachlatas such as putting on tefillin or learning an hour a day was very inspiring,” shared Rabbi Chai Kohan, director of Merkos’ Spanish division “Every ounce of effort, time, and energy we put into making this camp a success was well worth it.”
“This trip was an incredible experience for the teens from all over south america,” shared Rabbi Dovid Weitman, Shliach and Director of Camp Gan Israel, S. Paulo, Brazil. “They truly came away with a sense of understanding and ownership of Yiddishkiet; it was our honor to partner in this project.”
“What we managed to accomplish during these five days is only the beginning,” shared Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of CTeen. “I am confident that the inspiration that was sparked on this trip will continue.”
CTeen would like to offer a special thank you to Rabbi Dovid Weitman, and his son Berel, as well as all of the shluchim who participated in making camp a great success.