When Summer Camp Is No Escape

Palestinian youth AK-47 training summer camp

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, life goes on for both sides. But even in the normally safe haven of summer camp, CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey reports, there is no escaping harsh reality.

In the Gaza Strip, month-long camps are meant to give children a chance to play. However, one of camp's lessons is "be prepared," and here a first aid class deals with ways to treat a snake bite. Such lessons quickly move on to more likely emergencies - such as how to help a playmate hit by a bullet.

The Palestinian Authority is nominally in charge of the summer camps, but control is in the hands of those who fund and run them. Some have not necessarily been in the interests of children.

One camp run by the extremist Islamic Jihad group had one aim: to recruit suicide bombers. The camp was reportedly ordered to close shortly after CBS News visited, but the ideal lives on.

Children have been the cannon-fodder of the current uprising at a terrible and often unseen cost. "Sometimes the child is projecting an image of bravado, of macho, of heroism," explains Dr. Eyad Sarraj, Chairman, Gaza Community Mental Health Program. "But at night, he wets his bed."

The varying degrees of Islamic modesty on display are a clear indication that parents across the social spectrum here are desperately seeking ways to give their children a decent present, in part because their future often appears bleak.

Hassan Ali Moussa sends his children to camp because, "I don't know what to do. I don't even have for them to eat. How I can send them to the university or send them to the colleges or something like that."

And so the best the kids can get is time to play at camp, to learn the songs to sing at a wedding and prepare for the inevitable other side to life here.

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