Last week Gilboa co-hosted Strike Camp with our partners from the Silverlake Independent JCC. It was a whirlwind of a week - 5 days of outer space themed adventure & Camp Gilboa fun, all in the midst (and in support) of the Los Angeles Teachers Union strike.
Click here to learn more about our awesome partners at the SIJCC and some of their amazing upcoming community programs.
As soon as we learned that there might be a strike, it was clear that our values - supporting education and workers rights, meant that we had to figure out a way to support our city’s striking teachers. Strike camp was born through excited conversation and brainstorming. We would host a day camp for kids, allowing parents who wanted it to have child care options without crossing the picket lines… and getting to give the LA Jewish community a good dose of Gilboa education and values along the way!
And then suddenly, the week of, after a few long days of envisioning, planning & prepping, it was all put together. The chanichimot (campers) would be transported throughout the solar system on a week long outer space adventure, learning about empathy, respect and solidarity along the way - and, of course, about the strike happening in the world around them!
A Week of Space Adventure
We began the first day by creating our own space gear, preparing to navigate meteorites with an obstacle course, practicing walking and floating in space with a zero-gravity game of red-light green-light, and learning how to untangle the spaceship wires by untangling ourselves from a human knot! We also spent time in our Kvutzot (groups) learning about what it might to look like to share the (often cramped) spaceship – thinking about the importance of respecting one another’s boundaries and consent.
By the second day we were ready to launch ourselves into space and after a triumphant opening ceremony, we did just that! From there we had a relaxing morning with a painting project: everyone got to design their own planets! The education for the day focused on the importance of cooperation and teamwork - it included a group challenge of figuring out how guide a blindfolded counselor from point A to point B, with different obstacles blocking their path. Hint: we discovered it could be done if we worked together! Eventually we reached a place where the space rains cleared and we were able to land and head outside for a game of Asteroids and Minnows! The day ended with us wondering what else is out there in the universe after some of the campers definitely saw some aliens driving UFOs – we even created our own mini models to document the sightings.
On the third day, things began to heat up as we began to meet different space creatures – aliens and stars! We learned about what it’s like for them out there in space and how hard the stars work to brighten everyone’s lives around them. We also understood that the stars were feeling under appreciated and taken for granted and that they were going on strike!
It was at this point that the older campers (2nd-5th grade), after some time in small discussion groups, were able to take a field trip to the UTLA picket line. We talked about what a strike is and focused on the demands that are about improving the quality of education in public schools. We each drew pictures and shared about what we would include in our ideal schools. We formed interview groups and came up with a few questions to ask, and then headed out with our clipboards and umbrellas to interview the teachers standing outside Thomas King Middle School.
Upon the beginning of our fourth day, we decided we really needed to help the stars and aliens find a resolution so that the stars could go back to work feeling appreciated and happy! For our learning block, the older kids used the information they gathered the previous day to create news clips. After lunch, the aliens and stars had come to an agreement where everyone felt happy and respected and we celebrated with a dance party! We ended the day with a collaborative art project to represent that unity had been achieved amongst our space friends! At that point it had a wonderful trip up in space, but we were about ready to head back to earth.
The last day was the biggest roller coaster of all! We were all ready to blast off and head home, when we realized we were out of fuel! We made the best of the situation and started to figure out how to build a new society for ourselves out here in space. We completed group challenges to earn different structures of society, like education, health, and recreation, and then created mini versions of our new society with yummy building materials! Older kids discussed how these different structures and systems reflect values, and how to work towards change when we see parts of society that don’t reflect the values we think should be at its foundation.
After lunch, the aliens and stars came up with an idea that they realized could get us back to earth – on Saturn, there are special rocks that can be used as fuel! We met the Saturn aliens and learned they were very protective over their rocks, so we had to go on a mission to get past their guards and get the rocks! And thankfully, the mission was a success! We melted the rocks down to space slime, and it worked! We blasted off and made it back safely to earth!
Gilboa is about dreaming of the world you want, and then figuring out how to close the gap between that and the reality around you. And this week our community proudly helped UTLA close the gap a little more for our city.