Senior Retreat – Day 2


We were gifted with a bright, warm day after yesterday’s rain!
I’m not sure if some of you have ever experienced this, but I’ve learned quite a wonderful thing today. You see, I’m far from an outdoors person; I subscribe to the idea that humankind has spent millennia perfecting shelter to ensure that our indoors keeps us safe, dry, and able to binge-watch Netflix for hours on end. Since we have, in most respects, created an inside that is highly ideal, I very rarely find myself outdoors. (Also, being outside for extended periods of time, especially in moist or humid weather like yesterday, subjects me to uncontrollable beard frizz – the likes of which no conditioner can cure). 
 
Anyhoo, what I have learned today is that day-long sunshine has an overwhelming, positive effect on those who are outdoors under said sunshine. We woke this morning to a beautiful, bright blue sky and warm sun that quickly brought a summer-like feel to our retreat. The result was widespread smiles and laughter as our kids took part in the day’s worth of activities. When the sun is out, everything is more fun and the overall enthusiasm of our students is cranked up to eleven! (Please excuse my 80s movie reference).


Some Grade 11s try their hands (and feet!) at the high ropes course. 
Above: Melila Chesick-Gordis, Teah Bakonyi, Jessie Miller, and Ella Pekarsky
Below: Josh Switzer, Ethan Axler, Noah Marciano, Ezra Tischler, David Clark, and Ben Chelin


Today the high ropes seemed a little higher, the giant swing felt a little more giant, and the canoe and kayaking was a little more paddlier. Even in between activities our students played soccer, frisbee, spike-ball; it was like one giant, day-long recess. It was as if the sun itself had freed them from the oppression of yesterday’s precipitation. (Okay, I can see I’ve taken it a little too far; I had a lot of Froot Loops for breakfast). 
 
And speaking of eating, Stacey and Renee Kettleman have been keeping the kids thoroughly nourished. Some of them even bypassed the Froot Loops for actual fruit this morning. We also enjoyed a fantastic mac and cheese lunch which kept everyone fueled for the afternoon of more climbing, paddling, swinging and…archery-ing?
 
I’ve been chatting with many of the students these past two days, mostly to ask them why they like coming back to Keats each year. Many in our graduating class have been here 5 years in a row. The majority of responses all ring the same; they like being with one another, having fun sharing in the camp activities, and returning each year to do it all somewhere with which they are familiar. No one mentioned our super dedicated teachers or administrators who tag along each year, but I’m sure we add to the fun too – especially when we wake them up at 7:00 a.m.!


Harel Ruhr, Noah McNamara, Solly Khalifa, Adam Rosengarten, Landon Slobin, and Roi Jankelowitz, all Grade 12, volunteer to help Rabbi B flip some burgers
 
Dinner tonight was a team effort as some of our Grade 12s teamed up with Rabbi Berger to barbeque what else – burgers! Each retreat when this dinner tradition comes around I always envision our rabbi opening a kosher barbeque restaurant called (of course) Berger’s Burgers. But then I find a lot more humour in homonyms than the average person. 
 
After dinner, the students had a little down time which they used to squeeze in some additional play time with some pick-up basketball, kicking a soccer ball around, or coaxing the camp cat Chuckie over for a pat. If you ever ask your kids to do something or go somewhere and they tell you they’re too tired, don’t believe them. There is a strong majority of kids here who haven’t stopped moving all day (again though, under sunny conditions). 


Gabe Stern, Nathalie Gotz, Jillian Marks, Nathan Guez, and Adam Rosengarten, 
 all Grade 12

As sun set, we trekked down to the campfire area, which is a short five-minute walk through the woods. Around the fire’s glow, the rabbi shared a story highlighting the importance of embracing things outside their experiences, and everyone took in the requisite campfire pastimes: singing and s’mores. The night then wrapped up with a lively karaoke night where many of our students and staff bravely distinguished themselves in some silly singing and powerful dance moves! You’ll have to ask which act stole the show for your child, but the hands down favourite for me was Sagiv Fadida and Mr Dichter’s two-man re-enactment of Les Miserables.
 
We’ve now sent the students off to their cabins (after a quick stop for fruit and cake!) to pack for tomorrow’s departure and some much-needed sleep (which we know they won’t have). 
 
This will be the last update you’ll have from me; instead, you can have a full account of the entire trip from your favourite teenager(s) when you come to collect them at the end of Denman where you dropped them off just a few days ago. I would suggest some of the following as conversation starters:
 
1.    Which team won the trivia contest?
2.    What was your favourite activity?
3.    How loud did you scream on the giant swing?
4.    Did you encounter any sea life on your kayak trip?
5.    Which team won the trivia contest? (hint: the average age of the winning team was in the mid 30s)
 

Netanel Orzech, Oren Acrech-Berezan, Josh Switzer, Andrew Baron, Zevi Kline, Aaron Schaffer, Noah Leinburd, Brendan Moss, and Sagiv Fadida, all Grade 11, get ready for a rowdy game of spike ball


Megan Isserow, Emma Cooper, Dina Ferera, Rebecca Laskin, and Rachel Cantor, all Grade 12, are all smiles

Before wrapping up, I need to acknowledge the wonderful work of our dedicated staff members who have been so kind and generous with their time to make this retreat so awesome. Richelle McKenzie, Amanda Cameron, Brady Mymko, Cameron Metcalfe, Breanne Rogers, Dave Gorski, and Rabbi Berger have been outstanding throughout our retreat and I so greatly appreciate their spending time away from their families, routines and beds. Thanks as well to Matt Dichter, our intrepid retreat leader who put a lot of time and care into preparing everything for our trip and making sure it all went so smoothly. Thanks also to Debbie Appelbaum for all her organizational support. And lastly, a tremendous thanks and kudos to Stacey and Renee Kettleman for all their hard work and providing such excellent meals and smiles. 
 
As promised, we will be returning your children to you tomorrow afternoon. The likely arrival time of our boat will be approximately 2:00 p.m. Once we have cast off (I’ve been working on my nautical vocabulary!) we’ll send word to the school and you will receive a confirmation email with our arrival time. 
 
Thanks very much for reading and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow afternoon!
 
Until then, 

Alex

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King David High School, 5718 Willow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4S9 Canada

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