By Samantha Tabak
Our road trip up the coast was an extremely fun way to begin the Kavanah experience. We spent the first night at Camp Hess Kramer, and took advantage of the seaside location, enjoying our pizza dinner on Zuma Beach in Malibu. We got up the next morning and drove to Monterey, stopping to stretch our legs and eat lunch in the city. We continued the drive up the coast, making another pit stop in San Francisco where we played around on the Golden Gate Bridge. We finally finished the night at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa. After eating dinner with the campers, we participated in the 11th grade night time activity, which happened to be a talent show. Some of our Kavanah group even got in on the action and performed in the show. After sleeping the night at the camp, we drove the final leg of the road trip, finally arriving in lovely, little Roseburg, Oregon.
We kicked off our first day in Roseburg with an orientation at Habitat for Humanity, where we are helping to build a house. We listened to safety demonstrations and learned what the organization is all about – plus we got to use a hammer! We’ll work with Habitat periodically throughout the summer, but on Day 2 we volunteered with a different organization, AmeriCorps. We were split into two groups – half of us were sent to paint curbs and speed bumps, and the other half helped with a swampland restoration, cutting down shrubs and blackberry bushes. It was a productive start to the week!
The next day was the Fourth of July, and the staff members surprised us with a safari – we got to see a ton of interesting and exotic animals. The animals in our safari were on free run, so all of a sudden they would run out in front of our tour bus. We concluded our festivities at the local Fourth of July celebration at the park, which included live music and a carnival. It was awesome.
Somehow it was already Friday, and our first week of work was almost complete. We spent the day volunteering with a local organization called NeighborWorks Umpqua, or NWU. They sent us around the community, knocking on doors to ask residents if they wanted to take a survey to make their neighborhoods better. Conducting the survey was really interesting, because it gave us the chance to talk to locals and learn about their lives. The day went by really quickly, and soon the sun was setting and it was Shabbat. We worked together to make a beautiful dinner, and then led services as a group. The next morning, instead of having services, our Shabbat crew decided to lead a discussion in which we talked about the meaning of the words “Baruch” and “individual,” and how those two words are related. After a long day of resting and reflecting, we celebrated the end of Shabbat with ice cream.
Since we spent all day relaxing on Saturday, we were totally game for our Sunday activity: paint ball! It was so much fun! After we battled it out on separate teams, we rejoined forces and drove down to the local river, relaxing and playing around in the water.
It’s hard to believe the first week is already over. It was a week of completely new experiences, all of which have been fun and so worth it!
This trip is honestly the most fun experience of my life. I’m helping out a community in need while also helping myself gain new experiences. The bonds I’m making on this trip are like no other – even with people I already knew, this experience takes those bonds to a whole new level. The staff members aren’t just supervisors, they’re becoming my best friends. Everyone helps out with everything, and nobody complains about it because its just something you want to do. This trip is turning out to be everything that I had imagined for this summer and I wouldn’t change a thing.