BBYO Summer Blog
Working Hard to Make a Difference
Posted on 08/05/2010 @ 04:17 PM
All of the projects are coming along nicely. We are sweating, lifting, moving, shoveling, hoeing, raking and doing it all with great attitudes and open minds.
The Hopi group has been helping re-cement the village plaza and have helped in the clean up of old buildings and structures. The village plaza is a special place for the Hopi. Later this month they will hold their sacred snake dance, and our group feels good about helping the village prepare for this tradition.
Also, there was a lot of flooding that took place last week and many parts of the village were covered in water and mud-puddles. Our group dug an extensive system of trenches through the village and that ran off to the side of the mesa in order to drain the water. This was a great help to the Hopi and again our group is satisfied with being able to help wherever it is needed.
Navajo Group Update
Posted on 08/03/2010 @ 05:30 PM
Written by Abby from Silverlake, Maryland
In the morning we had a discussion about our group and how we wanted it to function, we then departed. We drove for about three and a half or four hours south through New Mexico and into Arizona. The trip was really beautiful. The majority of the drive was through the extensive Navajo Reservation which is stunning in a desert-zone-y way. We kept seeing huge outcroppings of rocks, towers, and mesas. They were even more impressive because of the dramatic nature of the Southwest sky. The sky here is huge, and constantly shape-shifting into uniquely beautiful cloud formations. For example, right now I see some gray rain clouds, some puffy white smoothed over cotton ball type things, and some really intense looking clouds that look like they have a scientific name that I can’t recall. Also, there is a little bit of bright blue sky in one direction and a slightly larger amount of dark bluish gray sky in the other. I am not sure if it is from the on setting darkness or the rain. It is really cool though, that you have about 360 degrees of vision, and can see it raining in the distance while you’re still dry.
Speaking of rain. It rained on and off throughout our lovely drive. I spent the drive down alternatively talking to my teammates in the back of the van and writing a letter in my journal. After Phil Bluehouse’s introduction we raced to set up camp before the water hit. Everybody got wet to some degree but we are drying off now. I found out that I’ll be wearing hiking boots pretty much the entire trip because when the ground got muddy from the rain my flip-flops accumulated twice their weight in mud.
Then, we got a kitchen orientation and while the dinner crew cooked and the Kavanah crew found some thoughts to share with everyone, a lot of the group tried to move the outhouse that was facing an unsatisfactory direction. We start service tomorrow. One of the Kavanah thoughts was about how we all do a little part of the jobs that need to be done, because we are all workers completing a house master plan. We’ll just be building a foundation, but, it’s a part of an ongoing process to make the world a better place. I’m looking forward to it!
Impact: Southwest 2 Underway!
Posted on 08/03/2010 @ 05:06 PM
Both groups are off and running.
After long drives full of good conversation and ice breakers the Impact groups made it to their destinations on the Hopi and Navajo Reservations. After arrival at their sites and meeting their hosts, participants began to understand what this program is all about. Camps needed to be constructed, kitchens needed to be built and duties needed to be delegated. Participants worked hard to set up their homes in the outdoors and everyone is adjusting. Both our hosts Phil (Navajo) and Iva (Hopi) gave us very gracious welcomes and gave us a picture of what the days to come have in store.
Service, learning, sharing and fun is what our groups will encounter while staying with their hosts. The group on the Navajo reservation will be helping to build a home for a veteran returning home from service, while the Hopi group will help with painting and constructing various structures around the village. As our groups perform service they will have the chance to interact and exchange with the Native American people. Participants are discovering the similarities between Judaism and the Hopi and Navajo cultures. A strong connection to their desert homelands as well as the struggle to find the balance between tradition and modernity are just a few. Each day, discussion around these topics as well as other Judaic and cultural themes will take place during a designated time called, Limud.
Our Panim/BBYO educators have put together a great series of topics and themes for Limud and these conversations and exchange of ideas are sure to add to the experience. As well, before each meal there will be a group of participants who will introduce and share a moment of Kavanah or meaning. This is designed to get the participants thinking about how fortunate many of them are to have the things that they do in their lives back home. It is a time to pause, think, and be thankful
Back to Base Camp!
Posted on 07/28/2010 @ 05:13 PM
Success! We have made it back to base camp!
Our last days with the Hopi were spent harvesting corn, cleaning the village and meeting the elected leaders of the Hopi people.
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Hopi people welcomed us into their offices and explained to us the issues that the Hopi face today and in the future. They willingly answered all our questions and impressed us with how much they shared. It was a great encounter with another piece of the Hopi culture.
Harvesting corn was quite an experience. We drove down to Camp Verde to the corn fields where we met our Hopi friends. Together we picked corn and loaded them into trucks. Corn is a very important part of the Hopi culture and it plays a significant role in the Homedance.
When we returned to our camp site we had Friday Night Services and a lovely Shabbat Dinner overlooking the beautiful desert scenery. It was nice to rest and relax after a week of hard work.
We woke up before the sun and hiked to the village. As the sun rose more and more Hopi gathered in the plaza in anticipation for the Homedance. It was satisfying to know that the village looked nice and that the dancers preparation and rest areas were clean because of our work.
Then, it began. The dancers entered, each holding the corn that we harvested! It was special to know that we played a big part in an ancient ritual. The Homedance was a rich experience. Dancers chanting and stomping in unison for an entire day. Witnessing this beautiful ritual was incredible.
We returned to the camp for more rest and some Shabbat programming planned by the teens. Before dinner we went back to the village plaza to see the end of the Homedance. Our responsibilities were complete and the Hopi appreciated how we contributed. We ate dinner prepared by our hosts and sadly had to say goodbye.
Our journey then brought us to the scenic mountains of Colorado. While in the mountains our group hiked a 14000ft peak. Yes, all of them. At first the teens were unsure but as we stood atop the mountain we celebrated our accomplishment. It was a day no one will forget and hopefully the participants will be able to take on other challenges and obstacles in their lives that they were unsure of getting past or achieving. Fantastic life changing moments!
The rest of our time was spent hiking and exploring the mountains and forest as a group and on our own. We sang, and danced. We reflected and fondly remembered our experience together. Now we are at the Deer Hill Base Camp. Cleaning gear and getting adjusted to running water and the indoors.
On behalf of the staff, I want to tell you how enjoyable Impact: Southwest 2010 was. While the new places and tasks were a huge part of the trip, it was the people, the teens themselves, that made this a once in a lifetime experience that no one will forget.
Working Hard in the Southwest
Posted on 07/23/2010 @ 04:23 PM
We have certainly been accomplishing a lot on our trip and making the most of our days. We have helped and done much with the Hopi village of Hotevilla in many ways. Finishing preparation for the Homedance (which is Saturday), cleaning the spring, collecting trash, and working with the youth of the village on projects, just to name a few. There were even pick-up games of basketball that allowed us to get to know the Hopi kids better. Our participants and the Hopi kids mixed up into teams and shared a friendly competition that helped everyone understand that some things are just universal when it comes to being young. It was a fun time and all involved felt a connection when the games were over.
We have had many educational and meaningful interactions and lessons. Dan, our Judaic educator, has guided the participants in daily learning sessions called Limud. In Limud we have had discussions around the numerous names Judaism uses to describe God, the connection to the desert the Jewish people have and taking our time to appreciate the food we have to eat and where it comes from. All participants have been fully engaged and all have shared some incredible insight and understanding. It is enjoyable to see our group exchange their beliefs in this way and many are now thinking about things they had not thought of before.
Our host Kenny has had our group working hard. During water breaks and downtime Kenny is able to teach the participants about the Hopi culture and history of the village. The similarities between the Hopi and the Jews are many. A deep connection to their homeland and the sad facts that assimilation brings when it comes to preserving tradition. The Hopi are a fascinating group who have endured much throughout time. They struggle with keeping tradition alive in many of the same ways our Jewish communities do. Kenny also took us to the Hopi Cultural Museum where we learned even more and looked at art and studied the past.
In camp, the participants take turns preparing and cooking meals for the whole group. Watching our teens cook and bake is fun, and many are learning how to be more resourceful and independent through this process. We sit in circles and have great discussion, play games, laugh, sing, and just enjoy each other’s company. We have split into Shabbat preparation committees; everyone has a responsibility. The committees are: Shabbat Atmosphere and Decoration, Challah Making, Friday Night Services, Friday Night Shabbat Dinner, Saturday Morning Services, and an Eruv Setup Team . Shabbat in our camp is going to be a special time for much needed rest and reflection.
We can see results and we feel accomplished. There is still a lot to be done but we can see that we have made a difference. We leave the Hopi Sunday and head for the Mountains. We will be in Southern Colorado in the La Plata Mountains for two nights. There we will be hiking and trekking through the range; challenging ourselves in nature and doing things we thought we could not do before this trip. Then, it is back to Base Camp for showers, wrap ups and unfortunately goodbyes. Watching this group come together as community has been very rewarding for the staff . As well, we are extremely proud of how they handled themselves and impressed with the hard work they all are putting in. Their parents have much to be proud of too.