BBYO Summer Blog
Taking participants to the American Southwest to live and learn alongside new cultures.
Welcome to the Impact: Southwest 2010 Blog!
We’re so excited to be able to share all of the wonderful news, tidbits and fun that go on here every summer with even more people. This blog kicks off July 18. Check back frequently to see the most recent updates!
Life in the Mountains
Posted on 08/10/2010 @ 03:58 PM
Before the groups headed to the mountains they met with Deer Hill Base Camp staff for a re-supply. The groups had an hour or two to swap stories of hard-work and cultural enlightenment. There seems to be a healthy rivalry over which group is having the most fun and who got the most done. I can assure you both groups made the staff proud and impressed their thanbkful native american hosts, no matter which site, Hopi or Navajo. They bid farewell to each other for three more nights.
The mountain portion is underway and it is going well. Both groups are deep in the majestic Rockies, exploring and experiencing the outdoors.
There have been scenic hikes to the top of peaks and the wonderful exchange of ideas and beliefs continue around the campfire.
It has been fun to watch each group come together as a unit and a family. That type of support and trust goes a long way during the challenging hikes and outdoor adventures.
Many participants were skeptical about reaching the tops of the mountains (13000+ feet) but they have pushed themselves out of their comfort zones and attempted things they never thought possible. This type of self-discovery will hopefully carry over into everyday life and give our participants the confidence needed to do things they never thought possible. It has been a true life-changing experience.
We return to Base Camp on Wednesday for a program wrap-up. Groups will hold talent shows, take showers and hold their final circle discussions to reflect on their time shared together. So much has been accomplished and so much has been learned.
Teen Reflections on the Impact: Southwest Experience
Posted on 08/09/2010 @ 10:45 AM
One night, two women who are in Phil's peacemaking class came to our campsite to teach us how to make the traditional navajo flatbread. We were actually able to knead and shape the dough, and then eat the bread we worked on. It was great to talk with the women, and learn more about their culture. They were very nice and open to questions; they were also very interested in hearing about Judaism. It was really interesting to see how similar the flat-bread making was to making challah, which we explained to them. They enjoyed learning the Hebrew words for challah and bread (lechem). We saw the women again the next day when we visited Window Rock, and one of them explained some of the uses of the plants and trees there. The Navajo culture she mentioned uses certain branches from certain trees to cover their shade huts in the summer; which reminded us of our sukkahs. I've really enjoyed realizing the enormous amount of similarities between Judaism and Navajo. -Joanna Bethesda, MD
We spend a good portion of our day doing service, but, every day we also take a break to discuss Judaism. My favorite discussion was on Tuesday when Matt gave us a list of 70 names of God and put us into pairs. We talked with our partners about which names we liked and didn't like, understood and didn't understand. Then we joined back together as a group and talked about what names our partners had agreed or disagreed on. It was a really interesting conversation, but my favorite part was that nobody was telling us what to think, like in other religious situations I've been in. Instead, we were asked what we think. I really appreciated that, and it made for a better sharing experience for everyone. -Abby Silver Spring, MD
The trip has been great so far. We arrived at base camp and soon met our staff, Matt, Keren and Amanda. We headed out to the Navajo Reservation and arrived on Phil Bluehouse's property, where we would be doing our service work. Except for the rain, this trip has been great so far, the service work has been really fun with pouring cement and fixing a messed up road. The scenery in New Mexico and Arizona has been flawless and at night the stars are just amazing. The area close to our campsite is especially one of my favorite parts of our trip so far because I am interested in geology and things like that and there is a lot her. I talked to Phil and he informed me that there were meteorites out near our campsite and I have found many so far on my free time and am still looking for an enormous one. This trip has been amazing both culturally and emotionally for me. I can't wait to see what else is going to happen. -Jonathan Feigin Washington Township, NJ
The more time we spend here, the more similarities I notice between Navajo people and Jewish people. Both involve a deep connection to the land, a rich oral history, and an awareness of what's around you. Yesterday we learned about sweat lodges, which are used for a cleansing ritual, similar to our mikva. They have a fried bread that is very important to their culture, like our challah. Learning about Navajo people makes me think about Jewish practice. I can't wait to continue learning more about their way of like. -Liat Boston, MA
The most impressive and exciting aspect of this trip this far (for me) is the sense of willingness I see from these students. For example, it is currently before 8am, but the students are cooking, eating and cleaning with plenty moxie. Thank you all for sending me such mature and fun-loving individuals. I feel as though we are just a large family and I am just another sister. -Program Leader Amanda Kesselman Westport, CT
I've been very impressed by the spiritual side of the experience. Before each meal we have a kavanah, a pause to provide meaning to our experience. The Kavanah Team for the day will provide a Jewish text, quote, or activity to help frame our experience with service, weather, communal living, etc. We are also discovering a multitude of similarities between Jewish and Navajo culture, their tie to the land and many of their customs and traditions. -Judaic Instructor Matt Lemchen Seattle, WA
Preparing for Shabbat
Posted on 08/09/2010 @ 09:58 AM
The groups split themselves into committees for Shabbat. Each committee will had a task such as: challah making, Friday Night and Saturday Service leading, Shabbat programming, Shabbat Atmosphere, and Havadallah. After a long week of hard, meaningful work, the Impact participants deserve a day of rest, relaxation and reflection.
On Sunday the groups said goodbye to their hosts and headed for the mountains of Southern Colorado. There they will experience the outdoors in one of the most beautiful settings the US has to offer. There will be hiking, learning, singing and dancing. The mountain portion is designed to challenge the participants. The chance to prove to yourself that you are capable of doing things you thought you couldn't is what the mountain portion is all about.
After the mountains it is back to Deer Hill Base Camp for a final night of Impact fun and sharing.
Reflections from Impact: Southwest Teens
Posted on 08/05/2010 @ 04:36 PM
Last night we slept underneath the stars, it was beautiful. Everyone in our group gets along really well, we are like a family. It has been amazing out here on Hopi. Its an experience you can never forget.
Las Vegas, NV
A few days ago I was on lunch crew. We didn't know it at the time but we weren't supposed to be in the area we had set up in because it was a sacred place. 3 year old Richard and 8 year old Veronica told us that the open area is only for the Kachina to go in. After lunch, we were shown the place where children are told the Kachinas boil lazy children and children who fight with each other. They also showed us a sacred spring. I stuck my finger in and licked it. We also learned that you aren't allowed to touch certain round rocks in this areas because witches live there. If you touch the rocks you have to pick them up, spit on them and throw it hard at the ground so it breaks. It was a great experience learning about Hopi culture and religion.
We sleep in tents, with ground clothes, 3 people per tent. Our host Iva's back yard has amazing rocks. Happy Birthday Brian!
-David "Crocket" Schonfeld
So every morning we wake up and get to watch the sun rise high in the sky. At 7:30 everyday, we have a Jewish spirituality lesson called Avodat Lev. To me, there is no better place to be able to give these things as much thought as we have. We've practiced meditation, learned to appreciate daily miracles, and truly thought about where our food has come from.
Every night we have a power circle where we all listen to each other about whatever we have to say. Its really just an enlightening experience to be out here and I really think its changing all of us for the better.
The last few days have been pretty amazing. Our Judaic instructor "Dan-Dan" is pretty cool. There are familiar faces from SoCal BBYO, Suzanne, Brad and of course Steven. We traveled 6 hours to our Hopi reservation where we have been doing a lot of work. The first workday we put new cement on the plaza steps. Then, we came back and ate dinner. The next day we did the same thing and we also dug up a foundation for a new house. At night we went to a Hopi food presentation and demonstration that was really interesting, we all were given Hopi cookbooks.
Los Angeles, CA
Reflections from the Southwest
Posted on 08/05/2010 @ 04:21 PM
Today we woke up to a nice discussion about the morning blessings and a breakfast of egg burritos. Then we drove to do service. We are excited to finish the project of re-cementing the benches in the village plaza. We also worked on cleaning out rocks at a lot to help prepare for discussion.
Right before lunch a 24 year old Hopi man stopped by and talked to us. We learned about the tribal clans and the matriarchal aspect of their society. We also talked with our host Iva about the Hopi culture, she fielded our questions, and we definitely learned a lot. We have much more to learn and we all can't wait.
-Eve Montclair, NJ
We continue our Hopi adventure today and morale is pretty high. Our hardcore service days are full of cement covered gloves and dirty clothes. Hauling bricks and performing service has helped us to open our minds. Asking the Hopi people about their tribal traditions, we have realized there are a lot of similarities many of us would not have expected.
Today during a break from work we began a conversation with a young Hopi man. He told us the complexity of the Hopi culture; that it is a matriarchal society with deeply interconnected clans each with their own responsibilities and duties.
Everyday has been such and amazing opportunity to expand our minds to a different culture and living style. -Ayelet Detroit, MI