Federation Helps DKJA and WYHS Students Build Teams with Outward Bound (May 20, 2015)

About the Event
Ropes dangling from 20 feet above. Telephone poles with metal spikes for climbing. A rickety wooden bridge. And a rubber chicken. That is what students from Weinbaum Yeshiva High School and Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy faced on the Florida Atlantic University campus in their own chosen activity to get to know each other. The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s JCRC and Department of Jewish Education had begun bringing them together toward undertaking a new project, also of their choosing.

After a brief introduction, students took to the fields for their training. Girls began with the ropes course, learning how to listen, be organized, follow directions, support one another and take on challenges. The big feat was climbing up wooden poles, making their way across a suspension bridge, and overcoming their fears. Since they were suspended more than 20 feet, they were safely tethered in case they lost their balance. For every girl who was in the air, their team on the ground cheered them on.

Weinbaum Yeshiva student Tova Bitterman, 16, said she was excited about the challenge, expecting to learn group bonding while making new friends. When asked if she was intimidated by the ropes course, she said, “Why should I be? It looks fun!”

The groups of boys headed to the far end of the field where they learned about teamwork and leadership. Some of the exercises included balancing on a rope that was about a foot off the ground while supporting others who were also balancing. Not easy.

Another test was to have a group place a rubber chicken under their arm, passing it off to the person next to them without using their hands. While it may sound comical, this taught the boys how to organize (it’s best to pass the chicken from left armpit to left armpit), accuracy, and timing (the goal was to do it in less than 40 seconds.)

After a lunch break, the boys and girls switched exercises. They left perhaps tired, yet having made new friends and learned some things of great value together far from their usual classroom settings.

Rabbi Baruch Plotkin of Donna Klein Jewish Academy summed up the overall experience with, “The ropes training with DKJA and WYHS was a great opportunity for the 11th grade students to meet each other and participate in team building projects together to help create a community that respects and embraces diversity.”