A 2021 Summer to Remember (Pt. 2)

3 months ago The Connections Staff 0

A Truly ‘XTreme’ Experience

Kalae Abrams// Princeville, Hawaii

Read Part 1 of our CTeen Summer recap on the Heritage Quest here: https://www.cteenconnection.com/uncategorized/a-2021-summer-to-remeber-pt-1/

Have you ever seen a jam-packed bus full of 30 energetic teens? Ever been in one yourself? Well, I was on that bus this summer during my CTeen XTreme trip journeying through the west of America. Reflecting on the experience, I can confidently say that it taught me about the power of unity and people.

Ironically, it was not necessarily the activities we did that made the trip “XTreme,” but the people we were surrounded with. Sure, we did go to some pretty cool places, but the memories I created with peers and counselors were what really stuck with me. I think this is best portrayed by one moment near the middle of our trip.

Our group had visited the magnificent Zion National Park. The mountains were monstrous, the hikes were beautiful, and the waterfalls were graceful. Unfortunately on our way back from one of our hikes in a park shuttle, the driver had pulled over and accused one of our trip cooks and one of our counselors of not wearing their masks. To the driver’s oversight, both had been wearing their masks, but the driver was adamant and clear about kicking them off despite any hopeless attempts at persuading him otherwise.

The two stood up and walked out of the bus, preparing to meet the rest of the group later on. The parking lot where our CTeen travel bus was located was at least a mile away! Seeing this unjust ordeal unfold, I thought to myself, “I don’t want them to walk alone.”

Without another second of hesitation, I stood up and left the bus to join them outside. This created a wave of reaction from the other CTeen boys; in a matter of about thirty seconds, almost all of the kids came to join me. We walked for about fifteen minutes to the nearest bus stop and then were picked up by our CTeen bus. We walked with dignity and pride.

Walking in Zion National Park

I learned a lot from this small moment in the trip. Primarily, by demonstrating pride and defiance, our group had formed a closer bond. We ended up having a great time walking on the side of the road together. That is precisely what the Jewish nation is, and should be like — defying modern injustice and sticking together.

The individual shouldn’t ever think that one action will not result in anything. In my case, I had learned this through the chain reaction of events that had transpired after I got off the shuttle with the trip cook and counselor. Furthermore, I realized the sad and much too apparent loneliness in our generation. More and more people are connected in this generation, but somehow are more lonely. I didn’t get off the bus to walk with the two of them; I simply thought it was wrong for anyone to be walking alone.

This experience reminds me of a verse in Psalms: “Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (23:4). No person should ever have to walk alone. But with another, I think the darkest valley will be a little more conquerable.

I relate this idea fondly to my experience of meeting the teens and getting to know them throughout the trip. On the first day in Denver, Colorado, I felt quite distant from the rest of the group. Being the only one from Hawaii (and having to travel across the sea for that matter), I knew nobody. Yet for two weeks, all of us spent every minute together, from the hours of bus rides, biking through the mountains of Colorado, and playing soccer on concrete until midnight.

This turned out to be an extremely profound experience. I learned genuine things about my peers and did fun things with them. Dylan Katz, who enjoyed dirt biking, turned out to have a really neat Sephardic background; David Asraf and I did tefillin together; and Allan Feldman shared with me his hobbies of writing and journalism (he’s the editor of CTeen Connection!). By the end of the trip, I had formed friendships with many of the teens there.

What could be more “XTreme” than that?