by Rabbi Yehuda Dukes A couple of weeks before…
CTeen’s traveling sports camp, CTeen Xtreme, recently completed its sixth year. The two-week camp traveled from Denver, Colorado to Los Angeles, California, providing teens with an extraordinary opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and partake in many adventures throughout the journey.
CTeen offered separate sessions for boys and girls, catering to over seventy campers this year. The travel program included camping in Moab, Utah, mountain biking in Vail, Colorado, hiking in several National Parks and a tour of Hoover Dam. For many of the teens, CTeen Xtreme was their first time in an immersive camp environment imbued with Yiddishkeit. In addition to the activities and adventures, teens took part in daily learning classes, mivtzoim, and volunteer opportunities throughout the trip.
Isaac Akrongold, a 10th grader at Greenwich High School in Connecticut, shared, “Before I came to camp I never imagined that I would actually find meaning in Judaism.” Upon returning home, his mother Elisa exclaimed, “The trip staff members were some of the greatest guys ever! The impact they all had on Isaac was stunning to us as parents. By far, they were the most influential role models we could have asked for. The Jewish activities and influence were extremely meaningful and Isaac says he now understands the meaning of lots of different aspects of Judaism that he could not relate to previously.” Isaac concluded: “I’m aiming to put on Tefillin every day and take everything I learned and apply it to my life.”
For many of the campers, it was the connections made with other participants from all over the country that made their summer. “My friends from the trip became my family,” shared Keira Weiss, a 9th grader from Northridge, California. “I left feeling much more connected to the Jewish community than I ever thought I’d be.”
“I’ve had the privilege of leading many CTeen summer trips. Year after year, I’m inspired by the enthusiasm and growth of each and every participant. Whether it’s mustering the courage for extreme sports or taking on new mitzvos, it’s always incredible to watch these teens grow and take on new things, not just at camp, but beyond,” shared Rabbi Moshe Rapoport, shliach to Mequon, WI, who led this year’s boys trip. The girls trip was led by Mrs. Rochel Holzkenner, Shlucha to Las Olas, FL.
One of the highlights of this year’s itinerary was the closing banquet at Chabad of Poway. “It’s one thing to learn and experience Jewish pride at camp,” shared Rabbi Nachman Rivkin, CTeen’s summer trip coordinater, “It’s another thing to see it through the eyes of the Poway community. We are very grateful to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein for taking the time to address our group. The boys were blown away.”
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of CTeen shared “On many occasions, the Rebbe emphasized the power of a 24-hour camp environment, as well as the special energy that teenagers possess. Combining the two has proven to yield extraordinary results. We are sure that each of these teens will return to their hometowns and take an active role in inspiring others and growing their CTeen chapters”.
CTeen is very grateful to Rabbi Yisroel & Leah Wilhelm of Chabad Boulder, CO, Rabbi Shea & Nechama Harlig of Chabad Las Vegas and Rabbi Shlomo & Tobi Bistritzky of Chabad Oak Park, CA for hosting the camp Shabbosim.
Photos by Sruli Faistman