Happy Trails

by Nate Vaughan
Teva Department Supervisor
View of the Appalachian Trail from the Galil Masa

For years, the Galil Masa (meaning journey) has been a central part of any camper’s Harlam career. Timed for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year, the Galil Masa is a 9.5-mile overnight backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, challenging for any camper, regardless of previous hiking experience. I’m not kidding, it’s hard; for most campers this is their first time carrying a 30-pound pack, their first time hiking so far, and their first time sleeping on the trail.

Some campers aren’t excited about the idea of putting on a backpack and carrying everything they need into the woods for an overnight, but for the campers who come with an open mind and positive attitude, the Galil Masa can truly be a life-changing experience. Just this morning, I was sitting in the Mirpa’ah (Health Center) chatting with one of our amazing nurses. Her daughter is a camper, and was in Galil a few years back—she still talks about the Galil Masa, it ignited a passion for backpacking and being outdoors that was probably always there but just needed a little spark.

In the Teva Department, our mission is simple. We take moments that are already pretty awesome—campfires, hikes, and campouts—and elevate into something extraordinary with intentional Jewish programming. Being outdoors is inherently Jewish. Being Jewish outdoors opens campers’ eyes to a new ways of embracing their Judaism. Instead of seeing our tradition as something stagnant, only for the synagogue and disconnected from their everyday lives, Teva shows campers how seamlessly Judaism blends with our natural environment. After all, G-d sent Abraham into the wilderness, Moses climbed a mountain to talk with G-d and receive the Torah, we wandered in the desert for 40 years, and David built Jerusalem and Solomon built the Temple in the wilderness.

Happy Trails,

Team Teva 2014

 

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