(Photo: Last year’s Israeli campers at Tamarack.)

For more than 20 years, the long-running Israeli Camper Program has brought more than 1,600 Israeli youth in total to Metro Detroit to attend summer camp.

The partnership between Jewish Federation of Detroit, Tamarack Camps and Michigan’s Partnership2Gether region in Israel is made possible by the hundreds of Metro Detroit host families who volunteer to house the Israeli campers.

This year, Federation is seeking out host families for Israeli campers in what it anticipates will be its most impactful and biggest year yet.

Host families will attend a welcome event the day the campers arrive and host campers for two nights following camp.

Session one of the Israeli camper program takes place from June 18 to July 12, while session two will run from July 16 to Aug. 9.

Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, many Israeli children have faced unimaginable trauma and uncertainty. Some have lost parents and siblings to the fighting, while others hail from some of Israel’s most devastated kibbutz communities.

That’s why this summer, Federation is seeking to bring out a record number of campers from Israel who now need community — and a change of scenery — more than ever. While numbers vary year by year, the goal is 150 campers.

“This year was a very traumatic year for Jews worldwide, but especially Israelis,” explains Allison Gutman, senior Israel & Overseas associate at Federation, who serves as the point person for the Israeli Camper Program.

“We’re once again digging deep into community support to bring more than our usual round of Israeli campers, including those that have experienced first- and second-hand trauma, for a summer of a lifetime and a warm embrace from the Jewish community.”

Volunteer host families host Israeli campers in pairs of two or three. They’re matched up based on interests, diet, home specifics (such as pets or no pets) and having children of similar age to the Israeli campers. Campers vary in age but are typically bar and bat mitzvah-aged up to their senior year of high school.

Host families are required to have individual sleeping spaces for Israeli campers (which may include a couch or an air mattress) and enough seats in their vehicle for safe transportation.

Host families are also encouraged to help campers get to know the community and make the most out of their stay. Some families, for example, will go on family boat outings with Israeli campers, while others will take campers to a Tigers game.

“The whole community is supportive of Israel and the Israeli Camper Program historically,” Gutman says. “What an opportunity we have to make such a positive impact this summer.”

If you want to do a mitzvah your whole family can be a part of, and make memories that will last a lifetime, you can apply to be a host family here

(This article first appeared in the Detroit Jewish News.)