Exploring the Impact of Habonim Dror

A Study by Steven M. Cohen & Steven Fink, 2013

Camps in Particular

Bogrim specifically mentioned the role, impact, and experiences that camp (as opposed to Habonim Dror) provided for them. For many bogrim, camp represented an opportunity to explore and learn about themselves. Specifically, camp was a “coming of age experience,” an opportunity to live Kupa (organized group sharing and decision-making), learning about leadership, and learning how to get along with others. Some representative comments of this theme include the following:

  • Camp Miriam was a wonderful experience and a coming of age for me. It broke me out of my shell and allowed me to grow and experience living as a young adolescent outside of my home. It helped me to experience being Jewish and gain an affinity to Israel in a new way and create my own connections to my heritage….It also helped me learn how to be a good leader as I got older and became a Madatz and then a Madricha. And of course, going to Israel on MBI was unforgettable as well. I believe all kids should have the opportunity to go to sleep away camp, religious or not. Its benefits are countless.
  • I really loved Habonim Dror as a camper. It was a welcoming, communal, active environment where enthusiastic self-expression was encouraged and making friends was easy; all of that contrasted with school and was a really positive part of my youth. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good summer camp for their children.
  • The values I learned at camp, including respect for labor and hard work, sensitivity and compassion towards others, and the power of sharing/Kupa, have most definitely influenced the choices I have made over my lifetime. My choice of life partner, the profession I chose, the way I've raised my children, my politics, and my involvement in my Jewish community are all the result of my early Habonim experiences.
  • I can't imagine what my life would have been like without Habonim. Going to camp at Mosh gave me a place where I felt like I belonged completely- a place that I loved fiercely. When I felt like I didn’t belong in middle school and high school, I always knew that there was this other place where I belonged, where I had friends that loved me. Habonim has also been a huge influence in terms of values and ideology.
  • I got more leadership training from working at Galil than I ever got from any "leadership training program". The intensity of the experience as a madrich led to so much learning about politics, pedagogy, leadership, and organizing. HDNA camps are good for the campers but they are transformative for the staff.