Posted by: ajsssummer | August 2, 2013

Work Hard, Relax, Work Harder, Repeat

By Orly Mintz

It’s hard to believe we’re going into our last week of the Kavanah trip. We have been so busy these past few weeks, and the time has just flown by!

On July 19th, two weekends ago, we went camping at Diamond Lake. We took the scenic route there and stopped along the way to hike four mesmerizing waterfalls. When we got to the campsite, we pitched our tents (we did some practice runs earlier that week) and set up camp. Although it definitely was not the Ritz Carlton, we made the best of the situation and all bonded around the campfire as we roasted marshmallows and reflected on the trip so far.

On Saturday morning we went on a nature walk and had Shabbat services in the wilderness. It was really nice praying while being cognizant of the wonders of nature that surrounded us.

On Sunday morning we drove down to Crater Lake and embarked on a 3.5 mile hike, raising a thousand feet in elevation. After the first five minutes I was exhausted and out of breath, but turning around was not an option. I powered through and eventually we all made it to the top. Looking out onto crater lake everyone could agree that the hike was well worth it; the view from the top was indescribable. Later that day we drove back home, only to find that the showers at the YMCA were closed. Since we hadn’t showered all weekend, the only viable solution was a very soapy slip and slide in our backyard!

This week we did a lot of volunteering at a house on Pine Street in need of major repairs. We repainted the fence, cleaned up debris, and scraped all of the old paint off the house. The owner of the house, a 79-year-old woman with two mentally disabled sons, was really grateful for all of our help.

On Thursday half of the group went to work at the wildlife safari while the other half went to work with Habitat for Humanity. At the Habitat site (where I was), we got to lay down and nail together the flooring for what will be the second story of a house. We also toured the Swanson Mill, a lumberyard, and got to see how a tree trunk can turn into the 2x4s used to build  the Habitat homes.

We had time for one final tour before we left for our weekend trip to Portland: The Umpqua Dairy. Once we were decked out in lab coats and shoe covers, we were finally allowed to set foot in the factory. It was awesome seeing the production process for the milk we drink everyday, but getting to sample some freshly made Umpqua Dairy ice cream was even sweeter.

On the drive to Portland, we stopped in Eugene for lunch. On Friday night, after we arrived in Portland and got settled in, we attended the outdoor services at Congregation Beth Israel, the synagogue which hosted us for the weekend. We also prayed there on Saturday morning. The synagogue was beautiful, with stained glass windows and a high ceiling with chandeliers hanging down from it.

In the afternoon we walked to the International Rose Test Garden, where we took the time to walk around and see the flowers, play sports, read, and just hung out. That night after Havdallah we went to downtown Portland and got to visit Powell’s, the biggest bookstore in the country.

On Sunday we met up with the AJSS group that is stationed in Portland. After getting to know each other we were split up into groups and rode Surrey (six-passenger) bikes around a lake in downtown Portland. For lunch we got to walk around and buy food from the different vendors and food carts set up in the park. It was really interesting to spend time with other kids who share our same goals for the summer. We had a lot of fun sharing and comparing our different experiences in Portland and Roseburg.

On Monday we returned to work at the house on Pine Street, scraping and preparing the house to be repainted. We were also interviewed for the local newspaper about the work that we have been doing in Roseburg and why we chose to spend our summer doing community service.

I am so glad that this is how I chose to spend my summer, making new friends and doing work that is really benefiting the community that I have come to know and love.


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