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This December, the Jewish community of Polotsk, Belarus held its third annual Winter Camp. Polotsk’s youth leaders had prepared three days of exciting activities for the communities children, covering various Jewish and educational topics and ranging from sports and games to creative tasks to cookery – ending each day by lighting the Chanukah candles.

The camp was made possible thanks to the experience and expertise of Polotsk’s youth leaders, who are all members of The Together Plan’s Youth for Youth team comprising young adults from across Belarus, the UK and beyond. Youth for Youth’s flagship project is the annual summer camp, which brings together Belarusian and UK youth to run a week-long programme and participate in youth leadership training sessions. For the three years following its inception in 2012, Polotsk hosted the summer camp, learning from their UK peers in the process.

Now, Polotsk run two highly successful camps each year – during the summer and winter holidays – completely independently. Moreover, they share their youth leadership skills with other communities. They continue to work on the annual summer camp (now held in Bobruisk) where they help to train less experienced youth leaders. Meanwhile, youth leaders from Bobruisk worked on Winter Camp in Polotsk, providing them with the opportunity to hone their skills and the inspiration to run similar projects in their own community.

What our youth leaders said

“I really liked it at the winter camp in Polotsk. I gained great experience in working with the children. I liked how the kids were actively taking part in various tasks and games. It’s a pity the camp lasts for 3 days only. I would like for it to last longer.” — Lina

“Those 3 days spent at the winter camp in Polotsk were filled with bright and positive emotions. I was really happy to meet my friends from Polotsk and get acquainted to the new youth members. Each year our team is growing more and more and it’s so great! Working at camp brought me joy, it was really cool to watch the kids fulfilling various tasks and learning to work as a team. There were a lot of events and fascinating games for the kids and they were actively taking part in them. I think that we have became a real team after all, which is a really important fact when talking about the work of madrichim and madatzim.” — Dana

“I spent those 3 days among wonderful people. It was really interesting to make the ideas come true, work and play with the kids. I really liked the way the kids were diligently fulfilling the tasks. It was great to see them smiling. We became a real team in a short period of time. Time was flying really fast. I would like for the camp to last longer than 3 days. To sum everything up, I’d like to mention the only fact – this camp has become an invaluable experience for me!” — Dasha