Eleven days was all it took for me to make 19 new best friends. And when I tell you that I could write a whole book describing the North American Seminar (NAS) much less a blog post, I’m telling the truth. At a glance, 11 days seems like such a short amount of time, and looking back, I definitely wish we all had more time. However, the 11 days we got together were packed full of community service, Judaism, seminars, pictures, laughs, smiles and hugs (there were a lot of hugs). And while the Israelis were jet-lagged for most of their stay, they rarely showed it and instead were full of spirit and excitement, which only pumped up the Baltimore cohort more. By the end of our first weekend together spent at a retreat at Capital Camps, we had completely achieved “Ashkemore,” our perfect blend of Ashkelon and Baltimore.
While the Israelis toured Baltimore, we were able to tag along when possible. And while it was usually troublesome to get out of our school activities, it was always worth it. Even the small trips, like going to Quarry Lake, were so much fun for the sole reason we were together. However, we each had responsibilities too. The Baltimore teens were broken into groups of four and were responsible for certain parts of the week, like the opening seminar, or the retreat at Capital Camps. Likewise, the Ashkelon teens were broken into groups of four and were responsible for explaining certain parts of their tour, like when we visited Washington, D.C.
Eleven days and we had a new family. And everyone could feel it, from each teen in the groups, to our junior counselors. When asked in our maagals (circle discussions we had after an event) if we had been experiencing any problems our groups were silent. It was simple, we were too happy with each other and with how perfectly everything was managing. And another reason the NAS was so special was the bonding our Baltimore group experienced. I am counting down the days until our turn to venture to Israel to connect with our second family again!