I just returned from handing over my car to the towing service in the neighborbook where I live. As my car was hauled away, I caught a glimpse of youngsters walking towards four white vans and pushing severely handicapped young people in wheelchairs, most of them older than the volunteer teenagers. The tears got stuck in my throat and I could not help getting a bit closer to the scene.

My sixteen year old daughter has been busy over the last few weeks helping to prepare a special camp which is run entirely by the youth in our community for children of Ilan (an organization that cares for severely handicapped youth).

The moment has arrived: the campers are here!

For these ninety teenage volunteers, this is the highlight of their summer vacation. They are devoting twenty-four hours a day, for six days, to thirty handicapped children—to give their families the break they deserve, and to give these kids the time of their lives. Twenty-four hours a day, two volunteers are attached to each physically challenged adolescent. Most of them need help going to the bathroom, eating, showering, and even sitting up. Some of them wear diapers. Many of them cannot communicate clearly.

Many parents of teenage kids all over the globe cringe when it comes to the summer break, not knowing how the kids are going to stay occupied and safe. But what if we were to channel our children's incredible energy into positive use? Instead of looking for ways to entertain our teenagers, we could help our kids create worthwhile projects giving to others.

I am still choked-up by the sight of fifteen-, sixteen-, seventeen-year-olds so excited to wheel these special needs kids to the apartments that they have cleaned, decorated and adapted for their honored guests. Some of the teenagers are on kitchen staff: peeling, chopping, and preparing three meals a day. Some are in charge of the logistics of the outings and activities that are planned for the week of fun. Others are in charge of cleaning the bathrooms and the apartments, and cleaning the dining hall after each meal.

Then there are the camp counselors. Each sixteen- or seventeen-year-old, together with a fifteen year old assistant, is assigned one child to look after for the entire week.

From last year's experience I remember how hard the kids worked, how they struggled emotionally trying to communicate and physically take care of such severely challenged kids. So much love and pulling together as a team, so much to overcome in order to give to others less fortunate.

This is what makes sensitive, giving human beings. When we feel that our skills and efforts are needed, that we can contribute in a real way to make this world a better and more loving place; something shifts inside. We move from thinking, "what's in it for me?" to "what can I do to help someone else?"

Hodaya, my sixteen-year-old, walked in last night, past midnight, after the first day of camp and came to sit on my bed. She was so exhausted she could hardly speak. But she told me the name of her camper and how one of the teenage campers got stuck in the ring that they had to place her in in order to shower her. They struggled to help her out. It was a real challenge and a bit scary, but they swallowed their fears and worked together to help ease their handicapped charge out of her discomfort. I listened in awe of the courage and resources that these teenagers found. She said to me, "Ima, this work is a lesson for life. You can't take anything for granted. When I get in the shower, I feel so grateful that I can shower myself."

When I look back to last summer, I remember how hard it was for my two teenage volunteers; their tears of exhaustion, the struggling with changing the diaper of an eighteen-year-old, the raw emotions of shared joy and pain. But what stands out most are the shining eyes, eyes that express gratefulness for being blessed with arms and legs, gratefulness for being able to stretch beyond their comfort zone to give to others; the knowledge that giving is such an important part of life and builds inner resources that they never knew they had; a feeling of togetherness and acknowledgement of what can be accomplished when working as a team; and such a deep, deep satisfaction for the opportunity to affect others' lives.

In Hebrew, the Holy Language, giving (natan), is spelled the same way backwards and forwards. Inherent in Hebrew words is the essence of the idea it conveys. It is common to think that if we give our time, money, advice or possessions, we are giving up something of ours. However, the Hebrew word natan demonstrates the true concept of giving. When we give, we get back. Most of these volunteers will tell you they received ten times more than they gave. The two summer weeks: one in which when they intensely prepare and plan the camp and one week in which they run it, are the highlight of their year.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if instead of looking for ways to entertain our teenagers and keep them out of trouble, we would brainstorm with them on how to create channels to empower them to experience the joy of giving? In the process, our kids would discover their inner strengths, talents and leadership qualities and experience the incredible joy of giving. No classroom, no lecture can teach this. It is the greatest gift we can give our children.

I thank the youth of the Golan for teaching me this lesson and encouraging us all to do the same by expanding our giving cells.