Sophomore Journey: Finding Yourself in the Canyon

Shayna Dollinger, Class of 2018
What an incredible day!
None of us could believe that it was our last full day in Zion. It seems like we just gathered at Oakland airport to board the plane to Vegas.
What an incredible day!

None of us could believe that it was our last full day in Zion. It seems like we just gathered at Oakland airport to board the plane to Vegas.

This morning, like every other, we got up, made lunch, and ate breakfast. Then it was time for our final Tefillah rotation. My group participated in Tefillah with Mr. Kuchar. We all got the opportunity to create temporary art in nature. I loved seeing everyone be so creative.

After Tefillah, we got on the bus, and headed off to our next adventure, canyoneering. Once off the bus, we put on our harnesses and helmets and started the hike up to the canyons. The hike was pretty similar to our hike up to the rock climbing platform. There was a lot of loose rock and we all helped each other make the climb.

Once at the first rappelling location, we all gathered around and learned about what canyoneering is and how to do it. When it was time for us to begin the descent, let's just say, we didn't all jump at the opportunity to go first.

Alex and Coach T. braved it and went down first, as everyone at the top cheered them on. Slowly, the whole group made it down the first ledge. After the first ledge, there was inevitably another ledge to rappel down.

We all felt a little bit more confident after having done it once. I definitely learned to trust the rope on the second rappel. There was one part where the rock jutted out a little bit and we had to make our way around it. As I was reaching my foot down, I did a complete 180-degree turn and my back faced towards the cliff. As scared as I was at that moment, I saw that there was no way the rope could drop me. With help from the guide at the bottom, I managed to turn around and get my feet back on the rock where they were supposed to be.

We all gathered at the bottom of that edge and split up into two groups. One group went on a long rappel and the other group (my group) went on two shorter rappels. After my previous experience, the next drops were a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze, but they were definitely easier.

One of my favorite parts of the rappelling was the time that we spent waiting for our turn, since we could only go one at a time. We played games and sang, doing our best to calm our nerves and distract ourselves.

The final part of our course was probably the scariest part for me. We maneuvered ourselves through two narrow canyon walls. Everyone was super encouraging, and once we got outside we could not believe that we were already done. It was such an amazing experience and I think everyone can say that it stretched their comfort zones.

After a nice few hours of free time, which included more ice cream, we gathered for student and teacher D'var Torahs and then delicious dinner. After dinner, we participated in our final tribe meeting. We were all so saddened that it was our last night in Zion. We spent some time reflecting on how amazing the last few days have been and how much we have grown and learned to be our authentic selves.
Next up was a campfire, which included a "shine your light" show. It was incredible to see the amount of talent in our group. Acts ranged from singing to comedy to saying the Shema to saying something we appreciated about the person to the left of us.  Of course, there were also s'mores.

With that, the girls went into one room while the boys went into another and we enjoyed some great bonding time together.

It is now time for bed. I cannot believe that we will be back in San Francisco tomorrow. What an amazing trip it has been.

Special shoutout to all the teachers that came on this journey with us and made it so incredible! We are all so grateful for the time and effort that you put into our journey to make it the unbelievable experience that it was.
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.