(FJC.ru) This summer, more than 6,000 children from more than 130 cities and 10 countries participated in Gan Israel camps across the former Soviet Union. Operated by local Jewish communities and coordinated by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and Baltic Countries, some 50 separate summer camps offered exciting programs and authentically Jewish experiences to kids, many of whom would not have had them otherwise.

As in past summers, the camps boasted outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and explorations of nature, and Shabbat celebrations, lessons in Hebrew and Jewish traditions, arts and crafts projects and field trips.

The operating philosophy behind the camps is to maximize inclusiveness across all segments of the community so that Jewish children can have the opportunity to become better acquainted with Jewish traditions, culture and lifestyle.

Younger children and teenagers alike found life at Gan Israel to be a healthy and welcome respite from urban living. They ate at least three kosher meals per day and benefited from comfortable accommodations and top-notch medical care.

The network of Gan Israel camps in the FSU is supported by the Ohr Avner Foundation, which is headed by FJC president Lev Leviev; the Rohr Family Foundation, which is led by Sami and George Rohr; the Avi Chai Foundation; and local and international donors.

"The summer camp experience is the backbone of the revival of Jewish life here," said FJC executive director Avraham Berkowitz. "The children are immersing in a Jewish atmosphere and at the same time benefiting from a wholesome summer vacation. This positive Jewish experience will last a lifetime."