The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Camp Therapy

Koby Mandell was 13-years-old when he skipped school one day with a friend and was murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The two left their neighborhood and were exploring a cave when they were ambushed and beaten to death with rocks.
His story is one that is all too common among families in Israel. And as result, his family created the Koby Mandell Foundation to help kids who lose loved ones in terrorist attacks or from illness. Camp Koby and other programs like it, are possible because of this organization.
This summer, I was a counselor at Camp Koby. For one week, I was in charge of four Israeli 4th graders, all of whom had experienced tragedy on a level that few can match.
One camper told the story of his mother, who came home one day with groceries and was ambushed and murdered in her own kitchen. The murderers stabbed her with her own kitchen knives, dragged her body into the garden and mutilated it almost beyond recognition. The camper came home from school to find a trail of blood leading to his mother’s body.
From stories like this, you can begin to imagine the fragile emotional state of many of these children.
However, the remarkable thing about these kids (and maybe all kids) was that a majority of the time, they appeared normal. They played sports, did arts-and-crafts, and had cheering competitions at the end of each day.
Occasionally, the grief was visible. Sometimes, the kids were rem

inded of the death in their family, from triggers as innocuous as making their bed in the morning, and would burst into tears.

The goal of Camp Koby is not to ignore grief, but to manage it. Between a combination of therapy sessions and normal summer camp activities, the camp hopes to give kids an outlet where they can express themselves.
One of the ways the campers deal with their grief is by identifying with other, similar, kids. The first question out of their mouths after exchanging names was often, “Why are you here?” Sometimes they went into details, but they often responded with only two words, “My mom” or “My brother.”
Since many of the kids come from damaged or broken homes, Camp Koby is one of the few places where they feel normal. Even at school, where their predicament is understood and dealt with, they are outsiders.
Kids come to Camp Koby to fit in, to meet other kids to identify with. And while I found it hard to identify with them, and they surely found it hard to identify with me, I loved my time as a counselor. And as difficult as it may be for someone to understand why, I look forward to going back next year.

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Camp Therapy