On June 20, eight 14-year-old scouts from Israel (three boys and five girls) will arrive in Cincinnati, taking part in an exchange program facilitated by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The scouts will attend two one-week sessions at Camp Friedlander, an overnight Boy Scout camp.
On June 22, before their first camp session begins, the scouts will work together with youth participants of Mayor Mallory’s Green Leaf Summer Jobs program to build a bridge connecting two sections of the new Amberley Trail in French Park. Immediately following the completion of the bridge at 12 p.m., a dedication ceremony, including a proclamation by Amberley Village Mayor J.K. Byar, will be held. The ceremony is open to the public, and the entire community is invited to attend.
The bridge-building project in French Park is funded by a grant from We THRIVE!, Hamilton County Public Health and the CDC. Amberley Village is one of 12 local communities to receive this grant. Natalie Wolf, vice mayor of Amberley Village, said, “With funding from the grant, we are encouraging our residents and those of neighboring communities to pursue healthy lifestyles. The new French Park trail will encourage people to walk a little longer on their path to fitness.”
The Green Leaf program pairs 50 local teenagers, ages 14 to 17, with Cincinnati Park Board employees to provide horticultural assistance, trail maintenance, litter control and more each summer. This will be the second year of the partnership between Green Leaf and the Israeli scouts; last year, the two groups teamed up to plant trees in Eden Park.
Cincinnati’s Community Shaliach (Emissary from Israel) Yair Cohen said, “The best way for us to build connections to another country is to work alongside our peers from that country. While this experience in French Park will only last a few hours, the result will be kids whose minds are opened to other cultures and new possibilities.”
The exchange program, now in its 10th year, brings eight scouts as well as a leader from Netanya, Cincinnati’s partner city in Israel. This year’s leader, Inon Halfon, was a member of the first group of Israeli scouts to participate in the program, in 2003. In addition to their stay at Camp Friedlander and the French Park project, the scouts will also stay with host families from Loveland’s Congregation Beth Adam, spend a day at Kings Island, take a walking tour of Cincinnati and more.
“We do our best to give the scouts a well-rounded experience during their stay in Cincinnati, offering them a few nights in a home environment, asking them to participate in social action and letting them have some fun,” said Alan Brown, organizer of the exchange program, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati board member and past president of Beth Adam. “But what they really want to do is be at camp, spending time with fellow scouts and making lifelong friends.”
The two weeks the Israeli scouts are at Camp Friedlander are consistently the most requested in the summer. Brown said, “Scouts from all over Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are eager to get to know the Israeli kids.”