Hilltop Youth has set up the camp at Mitzpe Avihai, an illegal outpost near Kiryat Arba. Around 50 teens who describe themselves as "idealists" gather there to learn how to erect structures with relatively simple tools, and a lot of muscle-power.
Yedidya Slonim, a smiling 19-year old in khakis and sandals, greeted us on the sunny morning of our visit to the camp. Despite his youthful age, he has already had plenty of experience in setting up outposts, and serves as a counselor.
"I helped build Shvut Ami outpost near Kedumim," he says proudly. Slonim is also skilled at evading the IDF and other security forces, which often tear down the outposts only to find them standing once again days or weeks later.
He says the camp's goal is to show teens the basic steps of building a home: "How to work with cement, stone cutting, measuring the rooms, and mainly how to work at the quickest pace possible in order to bring the outpost into existence," he says.
"We don't call them illegal outposts, but rather building the land."
As we converse in the shade of an olive tree, we are joined by Aryeh Davis, the camp's organizer and a resident of the area. He is generally referred to as the "camp leader".
Davis says he provides the teens with all of the equipment and materials necessary for their training – wheelbarrows, chainsaws, wood, and stones – as well as instructors who work as contractors and renovators.
"We separate the teens into groups: One gathers stones in human chain formation, another gathers boulders using wheelbarrows, and another stirs the cement," he said. "What unites everyone is hard work and the will to take part in building the land."
'Willing to sacrifice myself'
And the schedule does indeed entail hard work. Every morning participants awake at 5 am to pray, and then immediately begin their tasks. At noon they move on to Israel studies, and then they continue to work until dark.
Teens from all over Israel come to participate in our camp," says Slonim. "The idea behind it is that this group will move to Judea and Samaria after its training, and begin building outposts."
One 16-year old who asked to remain anonymous tried to explain what had drawn him to the camp. "While secular kids my age just sit around bored all summer, I come here to learn basic things: How to build and be built here," he says.
Paralleling the camp for boys is another one specially tailored for young women, which ended last week. Around 50 graduated, and await the implementation of their training.
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