After a leisurely Shabbat, we drove to Glendale and spent the day playing paintball – an awesome way to start an amazing week, including fulfilling service projects and a weekend away at a summer camp.
At the beginning of the week, we helped out at the Phoenix School garden, assisting the AmeriCorps volunteers already hard at work. We not only cleared and built a few new paths around the garden, but we also helped get rid of harmful insects and introduce helpful ones to the plants.
We spent one day visiting the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, who are indigenous to Douglas County. They spoke to us about their history, what their tribe is like now, and how they are adapting to modern society. It was actually a really interesting presentation. The next day we went to one of their gardens and assisted them with their crops. We helped weed and trellis their bean plants, and once we were done, they allowed us to pick some strawberries to eat.
One of the coolest things we did during the week was volunteer with Habitat For Humanity. The day before the main project, we went to a site and helped some of the coordinators load a trailer full of building materials. It was a lot of work, but it was rewarding to see the trailer fully loaded, and our project completed. The following day, our group split into two, with half of us going to a work site to help build a house, and the other half working to de-shingle a roof. Both projects required a lot of hard physical labor, but we did well, and the roof group successfully de-shingled the roof in just one day. The group that worked on the house not only helped build its final framework, but they also spent the afternoon working with a different organization called NeighborWorks Umpqua, which is conducting surveys and compiling data to improve living conditions in Roseburg. We went door-to-door in neighborhoods, asking the residents questions; their answers will be used to help their communities.
On Friday afternoon, instead of preparing for Shabbat in the school, we got into the minivans and drove up to the B’nai B’rith Camp near Portland. Even though the drive up was long, we took a short break halfway through to explore Eugene, a really cool city. When we arrived at the camp, we were immediately welcomed by David Zimmerman (camp director and former assistant director of Camp Mountain Chai). After settling into our cabin, we joined the campers for Shabbat. It was amazing to see how similar their prayers and evening rituals are to ours, even though we live thousands of miles away from each other. They made us feel right at home; we heavily participated in the service, and even enjoyed ourselves at the song session and Israeli dancing that broke out after dinner.
On Saturday, we were able to choose a fun activity to do during the day – football, arts and crafts, “chilling on the hill” (i.e. hanging around the camp’s main hill and making new friends). After our first activity, we all donned our swimsuits and headed for the docks. Split up onto two boats, we took turns riding on the inner tube that was hanging off the back of each. Except for the occasional head bump while sharing the inner tube, we all had a really good time.
After showering and getting dressed, we ate dinner and headed to the amphitheater for skit night, where each cabin had to make and present a skit to the entire camp. Considering we had minimal time to plan, we had a pretty impressive rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon.” A lot of the skits were entertaining, but we still think ours was one of the best. We concluded the evening with Havdallah, which was different from our services at home, but was still a really nice end to Shabbat. Afterward, we headed back to the cabin and packed our things for the ride back to Roseburg.
When morning came around, we finished packing our things and went to the mess hall for a quick breakfast. The we got into the car and started the long drive back to the Phoenix School.
And so we began a new week, ready for more crazy adventures ahead.