Our 2014 trip was truly packed with so much excitement and adventure that we wanted to make sure that we could share our memories with all of our friends and loved ones back home, so every day our campers made an entry into our Trip Journal. Here's what they had to say:
DAY 1 RECAP - Elie (trip leader)
Hey everybody! Here is the official recap of the first day of Over the Top JYN'S West Coast experience. This morning I met the group at Denver international airport. We then head into Denver for lunch at East side kosher deli for some southwestern chicken fajitas. After that we hit the road for Boulder Colorado. Boulder is a mountain town with 97,000 people and features some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. After settling into the Chabad house at Boulder we took the boys to Chautauqua, the base of a mountain overlooking the town. We had a starter hike to warm us up for the rockies and then we spent some time relaxing and playing touch football at the base. On our way home we made a much needed stop for slurpies at 7-11 and capped off the day with a pizza dinner. Tomorrow is a big day full of hiking in Rocky Mountain national park so we had the boys make their own sandwiches and head early to bed. An amazing trip already, each day is something to be treasured. Check back here daily as we are going to get the campers to post their recaps and thoughts. Bye for now.
DAY 2 RECAP - Benji Maged
Hey everybody! Its Benji Maged here with today's Over the Top trip recap. We are currently in Boulder Colorado. Today was an outstanding day. We woke up and prayed then we ate eggs, cereal and fruit. Next we went for a quick Starbuck's run in town and then got in the van and headed towards the Rockies for our hike. The Rockies were big and naturey. The hike was adventurous. On the hike we found an amazing spot to eat lunch. It was a shady, private spot by a waterfall. We ate sandwiches we made the night before. The lake at the end of the hike was breathtaking and such a unique experience. We then headed home and has pasta and chicken for dinner and headed to bed. Great day.
DAY 3 RECAP - Brandon Baum
Hi everyone back home! It's Brandon Baum here. Right now I'm sitting at the Rockies game right above the Bullpen. The game is really fun but I'm wiped because we did so many things today it's crazy. First we went to Starbucks because our staff won't start the day without it. Then we drove to Red Rocks Amphitheater. It is a theatre embedded in a mountain with a stunning view. It was cool. We ran up and down the stairs and did push ups. After that we went to Bear Creek to go horse back riding. It was really fun. My horse was named dynamite. Some of the guys were nervous at first but after a while we all got really into it. We had some pizza for lunch, went to SuperTarget to get some water bottles and then we came here to the stadium. Tonight is our last night in Colorado so we have to pack up.
DAY 4 RECAP - Dennis Yankovsky
To all the parents back home, Hello, my name is Dennis Yankovsky. Today was the fourth day of the JYN camp. In the morning we officially left Boulder CO, and began to head to Utah! But in the meantime we took a detour to go white water rafting in Glenwood Springs. The group was divided onto two boats and we cruised through some rough rapids. Campers were given a chance to even jump out of the raft and swim through the current of the river. The water was cold, the waves were high, but it was an awesome experience for everyone. After the rafting we headed towards Moab Utah and when we were at a gas station half of us received 52oz soda aka one and a half litres! We drove through a hot desert and closed in our camping spot. We pitched our tents, cooked dinner and had a soulful night and exciting day. We are all sure that tomorrow will be an exhilarating day, full of tons of surprises and memorable moments.
DAY 5 RECAP - Effie Mincer
Hi it's Effie Mincer so far the trip has been spectacular. Today was more of a 'chill' day we got to sleep-in this morning. So we davened outside this morning and we learned about how tefilah means connection, and the fact that we could look around us and see G-d's miracles made it much more meaningful and helped us be much more connected. Breakfast was fruits and bagels and cream cheese. Then we got ready and headed to Moab's famous arches. They were really cool, they are a natural phenomenon that really make you think about how Hashem's hand is in everything. Then we went zip lining which was awesome. So first we took a bumpy yet fun ATV ride up the mountain almost to the top and then we hiked the remainder to the peak which was the first time we were on top of a mountain. And then we did three zip lines, the first was scary for everyone but it got less so after we all tried it. The views were amazing and we went really fast. After zip lining we had a surprise activity which was a trip to Ken Lake for an evening swim. The water was cold but refreshing and there was a beautiful rocky shoreline. Finally we came back to our campsite started a bonfire and had chicken wings and schnitzel for dinner. I gotta go because were about to start storytelling. Bye for now.
DAY 6 & 7 RECAP - Jaime Elkeslassy
Hey everyone, we have been camping away from the internet so we will have the past couple of days posted throughout today. Here's day 8! Hi I'm Jaime Elkeslassy. Right now I'm chilling right next to the fire. We're just finishing up the eighth day of the trip. Today was pretty cool. First thing that we did when we woke up today was head down to the site of the future Chabad center in Flagstaff to daven on the forested property. We then went to say goodbye to the rabbi of Flagstaff and we showed him photos of us davening on his future site. He seemed very touched. After that we went on an hour drive to Grand Canyon National park and on the way we saw elk and some deer on the road! Once we got there we had cold cuts for lunch, I personally had a turkey sandwich with mustard. So then we started our hike at the very top and I was expecting it to be an easy way down but after about 15 minutes I was really feeling it. The Canyon was really nice, it was something I have never seen before and I have always dreamed about it. Oh also I saw a tarantula and now I'm going to have nightmares about giant spiders. So now on the way up it was an even harder hike than the way down and I didn't think I was going to make up but I did with the support of my friends. On our way to the campsite we went to a general store and in the front lot I saw some pretty extraordinary cars, like a 1923 Ford with the mufflers coming out of the side and the engine coming out. It was pretty sweet. My dream ride. Also everything in that store was over priced. At our campsite right after we set up a nice fire the thunder came down on us hard. Fail. After that we made another fire. Success. Then after we prepared the food, like salami, grilled salami to be exact. And after I had the chewiest steak ever and I couldn't stop chewing on this one piece. I felt like I was chewing on steak flavoured gum. Then after dinner we went searching for marshmallow sticks and that was a pain becaue one of the sticks almost cracked my face. Epic fail. I have to go now because we are telling stories around the fire. By for now Jaime. Peace.
DAY 8 RECAP - Geoffrey Baum
Hello it's Geoffrey Baum, my day was Friday but I couldn't write on Shabbes so I am doing my recap now. On Friday morning we got woken up early and we left at 6:30 to head towards Arizona. 3 hours into the drive we stopped off at four corners to daven and have breakfast. We had a chance to do pushups in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado at once. After that we took a 5 hour drive to Flagstaff Arizona where we had lunch and checked into our hotel. After we settled we all went swimming. Once we were done we got dressed in our best and had Shabbes at the Chabad in Flagstaff. At the shul I actually ran into the leader from a program I took at my shul when I was young. It was a great surprise. We then had Shabbes dinner at the rabbi's house, it was really good and we had a lot of laughs. During Shabbes we hung out at Chabad after davening we played ping pong and pool. Then we went to our hotel and rested and just walked around. After mincha and maariv we went and did our own laundry at the laundromat. Were heading back to our hotel to have nachos for dinner. It's been a really great week so far I'm looking to the rest of the trip... Except for the fast. Have a good weekend at your quiet home without your sons. Geoffrey
DAY 9 RECAP - Ronny Rochwerg
I'm Ronny Rochwerg, here's my recap of day 9 of the trip. We woke up at 8 o' clock and we packed our tents from sleeping at our site in the Kaibab forest near the Grand Canyon and we drove to the canyon for mountain biking. We went biking on a trail around the rim of the canyon and we stopped at a lot of awesome places, on our way there 3 people slipped and fell off their bikes, but don't worry everyone is okay! Then we headed back to return our bikes. After that we got back into our van and drove through Arizona across into Utah again. There was a long detour because a road was closed, but the views were just amazing. When we got to our next stop, Lone Rock Beach some people went into the lake, and others pitched the tents. In the night we had a BBQ and prepared for the fast tomorrow. We ate chicken wings, hotdogs, salami and a special side of campfire baked beans. After dinner we roasted marshmallows. The site was just beautiful and the sunset was amazing. The staff woke us up at about 4am to have some food and water so we would be prepared to fast. Happy Trails, Ronny
DAY 10 RECAP - Spencer Spiegelman
Hi I'm Spencer Spiegelman. Today on the Over the Top west coast trip we had more of a chill day in the car. We started our day off by clearing the campsite at Lone Rock Beach, which had a great view of the stars the night before. After a few hours in the car most of us decided to take a look at Bryce Canyon and a lucky few of us got to be hailed on. I thought Bryce Canyon had a breathtaking view and was unique compared to the other canyons we have seen. After that we got back in the car for the scenic ride to Vegas. Everybody was tired from the fast. The fast was for the 17th of Tammuz commemorating the destruction of the holy Temple. After a long tiring drive we took some downtime in our hotel, The Flamingo. So after everyone showered and got dressed we went to break the fast at Nina's, a kosher restaurant off the strip. After most of us filled one bellies and felt sick we took a nice walk around the strip and saw lots of landmarks. My favorite part was the water show outside of the Bellagio. So we ended the day around 1, very tired and relaxed. Seen many great sites so far looking forward to the rest of the trip. Bye for now Spencer
DAY 11 RECAP - LAS VEGAS
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
DAY 12 RECAP Yehuda Moshe
Hey it's Yehuda Moshe with the recap for day 12. So far it has been just amazing. In the van we blast music and watch the country go by. Today we woke up, we prayed separately and then ate cereal for breakfast and had lots of OJ. Then we had about 5 minutes of personal time to gather our things for the day. We then packed into the van and went to the Coffee Bean, a nice change from Starbucks After all that we headed to Malibu and picked up wetsuits and surfboards, also our buddy Nachi Robbins from Toronto came to join us. Then he and Elie gave us a surf lesson and split us into groups and went into the ocean to catch some waves while the remaining campers went swimming with Levi. Surfing was fun and I almost got a heart attack because I thought a bunch of seaweed was a shark. I fell off my board and swam to shore in a hurry of fear of being eaten. We then threw footballs at each other in the shallows. It hit me in the face. Then we gathered our things headed back to the surf shop and got changed and ate next door at the world famous Fish Grill. We all had fish tacos and fries. I ate everyone's tacos. And most of their fries. We finished our meals and drove to Point Dume to take pictures and watch the sunset. Then we climbed down the point and sat on the rocky beach and learned about mikvahs. We just arrived back at the house and now we are eating nachos and chilling out. And then Elie came to my room to help me write this. Dueces. Yehuda
DAY 13 RECAP -Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas
Hi it's Rabbi Shmuli here. Today is my day. So to start off the day we dedicated our learning session about teffilin to the soldiers in Israel as they are moving into Gaza. We then hit up the world famous Coffee Bean and treated Dennis to an ice frap in honour of rabbi Levi's birthday. We then headed west to Marina del Ray and Venice. It was especially meaningful for me, as I began my career in youth programming at the Chabad of Marina del Ray some fifteen. I bought my first set of roller blades there. We then took everybody to check out Venice beach. The campers were really excited to see some of the bizarre and entertaining street performers. We also hit up muscle beach, and dabbled in a little Jew ball. After that we took everybody to The Grove and the campers had some free time to shop hang out. It's really interesting to see what kind of stuff the lads do fancy. Elie our counsellor picked up a brown cap with a pelican on it. On to getting ready for Shabbat. Showering, cleaning up, getting fresh, and all prepped for bedside inspection pre-Shabbat. We prepped a beautiful Shabbes dinner, compliments to rabbi Levi's mastery of the grilled arts. After we shutdown the artifacts of Babylon and moved into Shabbat mode we had a rendezvous in our backyard terrace, our own slice of Eden #checkoutthepics where we learned all about the global significance of Shabbat and Shabbat candles and we are off to do all of that. Shabbat Shalom... Cause that's how we roll.
DAY 14 RECAP - Nachi Robbins
Hey it's Nachi Robbins, guest chaperone and fake surf instructor, checking in for the daily recap. Started out the day with some big time prayers to the Lord, at the Rabbi Levi shul of Los Angeles. We met lots of characters there, including one particular chap, Betzalel who had mastery of blue corn in India and walked from Pakistan to Afghanistan. We were then hosted by the wonderful Weiss family who served a beautiful meal featuring home grown mercilessly hot insanity peppers. We then departured on a forty minute walk home, where everybody had the opportunity for a Shabbes shluf. Elie and I then played ball with the campers in the yard. We had a beautiful sing along Havdallah. After we handled our spiritual business we hit up Hollywood for some pizza and enjoyed sightseeing on Hollywood Blvd. Good times all around hanging out with the Over the Top crew, from surfing to singing, these boys know how to.
DAY 15 RECAP - Elie & Levi
Hey everybody! It's time for our final recap. Elie and Levi reporting for duty. We awoke with the rising California sun and welcomed the day with Cheerios and a little tefillin to set the positive vibe for the end of our adventure. After piling into our van we stopped by Starbucks to get our coffee fix, in order for me to be a functioning human being. In case you're wondering I take it black with a bit of soy milk. After dabbling in our coffee we headed to Marina del Ray to surprise the boys with a little speedboat action. We saw some seals and a lot of water. It was good times all around. Rabbi Shmuli kind of looks like a Kosher sea captain. After that we had a bit of cold pizza and tuna for lunch on the pier and then we pushed on to Glatt kosher to grab some foodstuffs for the rest of the day. Following that we went to Runyon Canyon to hike a bit and get a good view of LA and the Hollywood sign. What is really cool about Runyon is that there is an honour system snack bar at the bottom of the trail. Want a drink? Some Mike and Ikes? Leave a buck and take what you want. So cool. We sweat our way up to the top and enjoyed a good ol' fashioned look out. We climbed back down and headed home to light up our BBQ and get the night going. Rabbi Shmuli took the boys out back to have a quick learning session regarding education and the value of a mezzuzah in the home. Levi and I grilled up some burgers and doggies and some grilled pineapple. Bellies were filled and then it was back to business. To put it lightly, after two weeks and hundreds of miles our vans were a little ripe, so we took the boys to a car wash where we all got to work and put the shine back in our Chevy. We then rolled back to our pad and packed up and had an early to bed in anticipation of our flight. It's safe to say this trip has been "Over the Top". See ya soon! Elie and Levi