June 9, 2017

All High School Shabbaton: Failure or Success?

Danielle Hodes ‘20

The all high school shabbaton is an annual trip attended by GOA high schoolers and provides students with a fun space to branch out. It is a perfect opportunity to form strong friendships within one's own grade as well as form new friendships with students from other grades.
The shabbaton is particularly significant for the freshman class because it aids them in associating themselves with upperclassman and becoming more comfortable with their older peers.
This year there was an alternate destination set for the all high school shabbaton. Rather than returning to the same location as last year, Camp Pinemere, the committee decided it was best to hold this year's Shabbaton at Camelback, an indoor waterpark in Pennsylvania.
There was a large amount of controversy amongst the students about this change in location. Junior Matthew Friedman was initially concerned when he heard about the location switch.
“I was concerned that we wouldn’t have the same incredible bonding experience that we had at Camp Pinemere in the two past years,” Friedman said.
Freshmen were especially unsure how to feel about this change, especially because they had never been to Camp Pinemere.
Because many were unsure what to expect at the upcoming shabbaton, excitement was tempered as the trip approached. An indoor waterpark did not seem to be the ideal location for a perfect bonding experience, but the students were proved wrong upon arrival.
Although the Camelback waterpark was no replacement for the memories made at Camp Pinemere, it was enjoyable. Many fun activities were offered throughout Friday including laser tag, mini golf, arts and crafts, water park, ropes course and rock climbing.
After the activities, the entire high school gathered to watch the student talent show filled with funny acts and impressive performances. Students were especially pleased with freshman Ethan Steinberg’s – also known as Biggie Dreams – performance of his original song.
Later that night, students were split into large groups of people and were asked personal questions before shabbat began. The students welcomed in shabbat through a lovely ceremony filled with prayers and dancing lead by guest chaperone Lee Epstein. For dinner, the Student Council arranged for students to sit according to zodiac signs. This served as a bonding experience for many and forced people who would have never talked otherwise to engage in conversation.
On the final day of the shabbaton, the day began with praying and continued until the afternoon. After prayers were over, leisurely time was spent at the water park or roaming throughout the hotel.
“My favorite moments from the shabbaton were definitely the ones just hanging out with friends,” sophomore Fanya Hoffman said. “I think that free time is when the best bonding takes place.”
There were more bonding activities which took place following free time, but the most anticipated activity of the night was the one-on-one conversations. This year, guidance counselors made a conscious effort to pair each person up with another who had similar personality traits, making the process more enjoyable and fun for all.
Freshman Mia Harel never could have imagined speaking with her one-on-one partner, sophomore Maddie Herman prior to this time.
“It was so amazing to have the opportunity to speak with someone new who I would normally not have the opportunity to speak with,” she said.

The shabbaton ended on a positive note and although the vastly different atmospheres of Camp Pinemere and Camelback are incomparable, students appeared to have a wonderful time. Although slight disappointment stretched across the student body throughout the shabbaton, the trip was was very successful in its original intent-- to strengthen bonds throughout the grades.


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