By Kyle Schulz, Staff Writer
It's not unusual for young children to spend their
summer days digging in the dirt, but for the children of
the Ramah Day Camp in Elkins Park, getting dirty is all
part of the learning experience.
From Aug. 3 to 10, dozens of children of all ages
participated in "Dig the Past," a program that recreates
the adventure of an Israeli excavation.
The junior archeologists dug through a life-size tel
(archaeological mound), uncovered broken replicas of
ancient artifacts brought from Israel and used real
archeological tools to clean them off.
Afterward, the campers took their findings to their own
archaeology lab where they used glue to restore the
broken artifacts to get a better picture of life 2,000
The children then moved on to a daily life station where
they learned why excavating ancient artifacts and
studying their ancestors are important.
"Archeology digging is considered a national pastime in
Israel," explained Aaron Greener, director and project
manager of the program. "And not only are we recreating
the site, we're recreating the whole Israeli archeology
experience. We're trying to be as realistic as we can by
using real tools. A lot of the kids have the feeling
that they're not digging in a sand box and that they're
at an actual archeology dig."
Greener, an archeologist who excavates sites in
Jerusalem, said the program allows children to touch the
past with their own hands and feel a connection with
The idea for the program came two years ago when Greener
and his business partner, Mechael Osband, a fellow
archeologist, witnessed American travelers enjoying the
excavation as much as the Israelis.
"We saw how much fun the Americans were having at digs
in Israel." Greener said. "So we thought it would be a
good idea to bring the experience here."
The two soon developed a large archeological mound for a
summer program in Detroit, Mich., and their idea was
such a hit that they took it on the road to other camps.
Rahmah Day Camp Director Sue Ansul said the program fits
in with the camp's goal to build connections between
campers and Israel.
"This was fabulous," Ansul said. "I think it was a great
opportunity for hands-on learning and it helps connect
kids to the culture and people of Israel."
Thirteen-year-old camp counselor Raina Haas of Bala
Cynwyd said the children had a blast the past week and
also learned some lessons.
"The kids really seem to like it," she said. "It's fun
to be outside. It encourages kids to try hard to keep
searching for stuff."
While excavating artifacts is no clean job, Jenna
Nordlinger, 7, of Elkins Park, said she doesn't mind the
dirt and mud so much as long as she doesn't have to sit
"The dirt's OK, but I don't like sitting down in it,"
she said. "But it's interesting because we get to find
all this neat stuff."