When Ra'anana resident Deborah Dickson set up a Facebook group to discuss activities for her kids to do in Israel over the summer, she had no idea that within days she would be acting as a clearinghouse for thousands of parents seeking the same advice.
"It all came out of nowhere, really. I just wanted to get a few suggestions from friends about fun things to do. So I opened up a Facebook group and I invited a few of my friends and the next day we already had a hundred members," said Dickson, 30, who is mother to four children under the age of 10. "By the end of that week, we had a thousand members who joined the group. It was initially planned just for myself and now we're helping out a lot of people."
Dickson set up the English-language Facebook group three weeks ago, calling it "Tried and tested great things to do with kids in Israel," and after witnessing its meteoric rise in popularity, quickly turned the shared knowledge into the website kidsdayoutisrael.com. As of yesterday, the site, which features user submitted ideas and reviews of activities for kids, ranging from water parks to factory tours and more, had registered more than 17,500 hits.
"Obviously the site is something that is needed by people who want to find different things to do," Dickson, who moved here from London five years ago, told Anglo File. "People read about places that they might not have heard of but don't want to go without hearing what others think about it, in case it's not good enough. So you have recommendations and people asking each other if [any given attraction] is any good, and for more details, like things to bring with that you wouldn't otherwise know."
One user named Sarah Klyne recommended for example Dov Halavan in Emek Hefer, which offers bungee jumping, trampolining, rope walking, wall climbing and lots of other activities for children, while another quickly chimed in to ask if her hypotonic brood would have fun there as well.
Dickson's site is not the first devoted to activities for Anglo children in Israel. Two years ago, Los Angeles native Joanna Shebson created "Fun In Jerusalem," an English-language site listing all events and activities for children in and around the capital. But Dickson says her site is unique in that it focuses on peer reviews of events and attractions and not just lists them.
"Nothing on the site will ever be there without somebody recommending it," she said. "There are so many places you can look up on the Internet and find out information about the right age group and so on. But you don't have the confidence of going until you've actually spoken to somebody who has been there and says: Yes, you should absolutely go, it's worth the money and the effort."
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