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January 18, 2013

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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 18, 2013 Going iPhone'less: Camps trying to ban gadgets while embracing technology By Chavie Lieber as cellphones, tablets, laptop staff to text as a way of com- shy kids who don't sing, don't ity, began using the language out the good and the bad of NEWYORK(JTA)--AtaJew- ish summer camp in upstate New York, they're giving kids digital filmmaking classes and telling them to leave their Nin- tendo Game Boys at home. In Georgia, a camp is encouraging face time with video pen pals rather than time on iPods. In Wisconsin, a camp has trade& snail mail for scanned mail. As technology oozes into every facet of children's lives, Jewish summer camps are struggling with how to wean kids off their gadgets--at least for the summer--while using technology to improve the camp experience. "Once upon a time, kids were playing cards at night, but camp is a very different place than it was 40 years ago," said Rabbi Paul Resnick, director of the Conservative-affiliated Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in Wingdale, N.Y. "Camps need to keep up and evolve since tech- nology keeps changing on us." Many Jewish camps now have rules banning gadgets such By June Glazer Israel21c When tractors break ground at the GaZelle Valley in Jeru- salem this month, a new and unique chapter in the city's effortso"go green"will begin. After a decades-long fight to keep developers away from the site, Israel will finally get its first wildlife nature park within a city, and Jerusalem will have preserved a pre- cious open space in its urban heartland. Gazelle Valley is about 64 acres of choice, undeveloped land and is the largest open space left in Jerusalem proper, Located on the edge of the Givat Mordechai neighbor- hood in the city's southwest, opposite the busy Patt Junc- tion, its name comes from the small flock of wild mountain gazelle that live there. computers, iPods and gaming devices. B'nai B'rith's Beber Camp in Mukwonago, Wis., has a no-screen policy. Camp Morasha in Lakewood, Pa., bans any device that can connect to the Internet. But at the same time, camps are using technologies to their advantage: live streaming events so paten ts back home can watch, using digital programs to teach Hebrew, uploading photos to the Internet and replacing scanning with snail mail to instantly send the children's qetters to their parents. Camps are evolving as they try to figure out how to toe the line between enhancing their programs with technology while giving kids a rustic camp experience, Resnick said. "Policies we implement one summer could be totally differ- ent fromthe nextbecausewe are still trying to see what works," Resnick told JTA. "If you would have asked me three years ago if I'd ever let staff use cellphones in camp, I'd say absolutely not. But last year we started telling munication in camp, and it's actually really efficient." As a way to appeal to camp- ers seeking a more digital camp experience, Ramah in the Berkshires recently added digital filmmaking to its elec- tives alongside traditional camp • activities suchas artsandcrafts, cooking and nature courses. Jodi Fleisig of Atlanta, whose two sons attend Camp Ramah Dorom in Clayton, Ga., said live streaming of the camp's Havdalah servi.ce was a high- light of her summer. Through its Facebook page, Ramah Do- rom invited parents and alumni to celebrate the end of Shabbat virtually alongside campers singing by candlelight. "Watching my son during the live Havdalah service was like watching him through a peephole--giving him the free- dom and independence I want him to have while still getting to see him look so free, so happy and so engaged," said Fleisig, who hosted a viewing party at her home for the service. ,'It's amazing to see your normally dance, literally come alive at camp. "Technology can be a won- derfulvehicle towatchyour kids grow, and to know that they are getting out of the camp experi- encewhatyouwere hopingthey would gain without interfering with their independence." Rarnah ffarom is looking into other programs to live stream this summer, including the camp play. At Beber Camp, parents can connect through an app cre- ated last summer by staffer Brad Robison that gives parents access to camp videos, social media, schedules and activities. Beber also uses aweb manage- ment company, CampMinder, to enable kids to write letters home that are [hen digitally scanned and uploaded to a portal parents access through the camp website. A unique barcode on the back of each letter ensures goes to the right account. Camp Osrui, a Reform camp in Oconomowoc, Wis., where teaching Hebrew is a top prior- Building a home where the ant " Amir Balaban A resident gazelle takes a nap in its Jerusalem habitat. For years Gazelle Valley was the object of a battle that pitted a coalition of environ- mentalists and local residents against real-estate developers• In March 2012, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled against the developers, pav- ing the way for.a park where Compassionate Service Care PRIVATE HOMECARE Cooking • Nursing • Errands Driving • Companionship MUCH JEWISH EXPERIENCE &REASONABLE RATES Call Altia at (407) 401 - 1376 or Annett at (407) 927-9360 the gazelles can roam free in a natural habitat, and where humans can observe them up close. "In Israel, 93 percent of our population lives in cities, so the quality of the urban envi- ronment is very important," says Naomi Tsur, Jerusalem deputy mayor for-planning and environment. She was critical of the effort to derail the developers, hav- ing spent 10 years as director of the Jerusalem chapter of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and two years directing the NGO's urban activities throughout the country. "Nature and open spaces are an integral part of a healthy city. They have to be available for local residents," Tsur tells Israe121c The idea for the park, to be called the Gazelle Urban _ Nature Park, germinatedwhen two things became clear: The herd of gazelle that live there was diminishing and needed protecting--theywere getting hit by cars on the adjacent Begin Highway, and killed by jackals and wild dogs that prowled in the valley--and the 150,000 people who reside in the surrounding areas needed a "green lung" for recreation as their neighborhoods den- sifted. With input from a coalition of stakeholders including environmental organizations and local residents, Tsur put together a plan for the park that the Jerusalem Planning Committee approved in 2008, though the fight with the developers continued in court where they finally lost their bid last March. The land, once plantedwith kibbutz-owned orchards that supplied fruit to Jerusalemites during the War of Indepen- dence and the Arab siege, is now slated to become the city's premier nature initiative. Funded in part by the Jerusa- lem Foundation, itwill be built in stages over the course of the next 10 years. "The park will be divided into three sections," explains Amir Balaban, wildlife expert, photographer and SPNI cam- eraman. He teamed up with Tsur to become a leading advocate in the fight against program Rosetta Stone last summer. Campers responded so well to the program, enjoy- ing the activity as a game while learning Hebrew at a swift pace, that Osrui is expanding its media center for this summer, according to camp director Jerry Kaye. Osrui also plans to incor- porate a new digital pen pal program in which campers will Skype with Israeli children to practice theirHebrewandrnake Israeli friends. The camp's web- site currently offers an extensive digital gallery that uploads some 500 photos of campers each day. Not all camp officials are fans of providing information to parents in real time, however. "The problem with incorpo- rating all this techfloiogy is that I think camp should be teaching independence, how to get along on your own, and parents will hear half-stories often if they are constantly being updated by a phone call or a photo," Morasha camp director Ira Spodek said. Like many summer camps, Morasha still is trying to figure technology. Spodek says the camp's rule banning Internet- enabled gadgets is becoming increasingly harder to enforce with technology advancing and filtering down even to the youngest campers. He notes that some campers will show up with two cellphones: one to forfeit to the office, the other to use secretly throughout the summer to contact parents. Ultimately, says Alan Silver- man, director of Bnei Akiva's Camp Moshava in Ontario, Canada, summer camp is about • giving the kids an experience beyond the ordinary. "We don't allow any sort of cellphones or gadgets in our camp, and it's not because we're against them," Silverman said. "The goal is to show them how • much camp has to offer, with all the nature and sports, that it's better for them to leave the gad- gets behind for the summer." ADVERTISEMENT: Visit to find a Jewish camp and see if your child qualifies for a $1,000 grant. 'a)pe roam. -Amir Balaban Gazelle Valley is a hard-won green expanse below Jerusa- lem's Givat Mordechai neighborhood. the developers• The smallest parcel, about 12 acies, will be used strictly by the gazelles as their natural habitat. Another 32-acre sec- tion is designated for picnic grounds, while the remain- ing 15 or so acres will act as a barrier zone between the other sections. This is where a visitors' center willbe built. "People can get close--but not too close--to the gazelles," Balaban says. Stage one of the plan, ex- pected to be completed by Au: gust, will include reorganizing the valley's natural core with new plantings, increasing the surviving gazelle herd from four to 15, and building the first of two promenades• The second stage will fo- cus on two streams that run through the valley. Plans call for reorganizing their banks to create five water • ponds that will be accessible to both gazelles and humans and also act as a barrier between them. Stage three will see the building of the visitors' cen- ter and other structures; stage four calls for a second promenade with street-level observation points , and the last stage envisions a second visitors' center. • The Gazelle Urban Nature Park will remain open to the public during all phases of construction arid there will be no admission fee. Balaban predicts itwill be,a park for everyone," including tourists and local schoolchil- dren and famiffes. As the first urban nature wildlife preserve in Israel, the Jerusalem park could pave the way for other initiatives throughout the country that promote urban nature as a re- source for leisure, education, tourism, research and culture, Balaban says. • Tsur notes that world eyes are watching as well. "The Ga- zelle Urban Nature Park is the Legacy Project of Jerusalem's Local Action for Biodiversity program, the forum where Jerusalem and its urban na- ture initiatives interface with dozens of international cities," she says.