By: Zack Robinson, Kutz Participant (NFTY-SoCal)
Shalom! My name is Zack Robinson, and I am part of the TEVA: Outdoor Experience Major at Kutz Camp. For the past couple of weeks, in TEVA we have been learning a lot about nature, God, people, and how the three interact to form this unique environment. We have learned about different plant types and what makes them all different, and about the different creation stories and how they can be interpreted to teach us about our role on this planet. The culmination of all of our gathered knowledge occurred this past Wednesday and Thursday, on our overnight trip in the Catskills of New York.
Early Wednesday morning, the TEVA major began our preparation for the trip. We packed up our tents, sleeping bags, food, water bottles, and all the other necessities, while avoiding unnecessary items because we had to carry everything we brought with us. After about two hours, our bus dropped us off in front of a clearing with nothing more than a picnic table and a bonfire pit. We would not see the bus again until the following afternoon. So we set up the campsite, and began our first hike.
Through the woods along the trail, we came across this gorgeous waterfall, only thirty minutes away from our campsite. While the waters were not gushing as they probably do in the spring, the trickling was enough to allow us to walk away in awe. But this was only one stop on the way to our first destination. We would not reach our final resting point for over an hour and a half. The top of the mountain, a gorgeous view. Within a few steps, we had nearly a 360º panoramic view of grass, mountains, trees, and the lake our tents were near. Even though we were all exhausted, and hungry, and thirsty, the view was worth the hike. We then rushed down the mountain to avoid rain and darkness, and made it down just in time to cook ourselves a pasta dinner before having a short service followed by s’mores.
Well rested, I woke up at 7:30 to do a short journal write before we had to pack up, and then we all ate a breakfast of oatmeal, cereal, and trail mix, immediately followed by our next hike. Leading the way, I used the map to take our group to a scenic overlook with a view that is rumored to span five states.
When we reached our final destination, an intersection of two hiking trails in the center of a dense forest, we were able to participate in an awesome activity. We were all brought to separate, private locations, where we were given half an hour to be alone. Not only was the individual time amazing, but the thirty minutes felt like five as I explored my mind and the surrounding life and stream.
It was on a nearby road that our trip came to an end, where we were met by the familiar bus that had dropped us off nearly 30 hours earlier. We packed up our stuff, and headed back to the Kutz Camp for dinner. The trip was an unforgettable, amazing experience not only because of the hiking, cooking, and sleeping in tents, but because of the connections that we all made. The connections I made with the rest of TEVA are great, as I have made new friends and strengthened existing bonds. The connections between myself and nature are strong as well too, as I feel as though I have a newfound respect for the greenery that exists around us. But even more importantly, I learned a lot more about myself, from the physical struggles and the time spend alone.
While we came back dirty, smelly, hungry, and tired, we all also came back more experienced, and knowledgeable. I am so glad I was able to go on a trip like this, and I am very excited for anyone else who is able to experience this camping trip in the future.