Twenty lucky Irish American high schoolers will explore Ireland with the Global Irish Summer Camp this summer.ISA Ireland

Ireland’s first-ever official immersive program for Irish diaspora teenagers will kick off this summer.

The Global Irish Summer Camp, Ireland’s answer to calls for an initiative similar to Birthright, the Israeli program that has brought 400,000 young Jewish people between the ages of 18 and 26 to Israel since 1999, will take place from July 20 – August 4.

The pilot program will offer 20 spots to Irish American high school students between the ages of 15 and 17. In order to be eligible applicants cannot have spent time in Ireland before.

The deadline to apply is April 20, and the lucky 20 who are selected will be notified in late May/early June. Application instructions can be found on the Global Irish Summer Camp website.

The Summer Camp program, based at University College Dublin and the Institute of Study Abroad’s Ireland campus In Bundoran, Co. Donegal, will include classes and workshops on Irish history, language and culture in addition to field trips to important sites across the island, including day trips and outdoor adventures.

It is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Emigrant Support Program and run by the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland and the UCD Clinton Institute.

“This initiative will bring a group of 20 young Americans of Irish heritage to Ireland for the first time and is aimed at deepening their engagement with the country of their ancestors," said Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.

He called the summer camp “an excellent opportunity for children of Irish emigrants to strengthen their links with Ireland though a short immersive visit. Following their participation in the program it is hoped that they will leave with a new-found love of Ireland which will stay with them for many years.”

Participants will have all in-country costs covered while in Ireland, including accommodation, meals and transport for the duration of the program. However, for the pilot year at least, participants will be responsible for covering the costs of their travel to and from Ireland.

In addition, parents/guardians will be required to pay a security deposit of $500, to be refunded at the end of the program.

The idea for an Irish Birthright-style was first framed by Irish American leaders during the consultation phase for “Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy.”

The Israeli Tagalit-Birthright program, founded in 1999, sends young men and women of Jewish origins to Israel for a ten day immersion in the language, culture, history and modern day life of Israel. To date, more than 400,000 young adults from all over the world have taken part in Birthright Israel, which began as the initiative of two philanthropists, Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, who shared the belief that it was “the birthright of all young Jews to be able to visit their ancestral homeland.”

Plans for the program were first announced last year, to great enthusiasm

Similar to the Birthright Program, the Global Irish Summer Camp will be invited to stay involved with the program’s alumni network through a series of follow up projects and activities.

Depending upon the success of program, there will be the potential for significant growth and expansion.

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