Trek West #1: Let The Games Begin

Shalom from the Ponderosa Ranch in Utah! 
We set out Friday morning from our accommodations at NAU in Flagstaff and traveled north towards Utah, stopping first for a picnic lunch at Lake Powell and to enjoy the grandeur of the Glen Canyon Dam (in Arizona). The Dam stands over 700 feet and the views of the dam with the surrounding areas are fantastic. We continued from there to Ponderosa Ranch in Utah right on the edge of Zion National Park where we prepared for Shabbat and had some free time. 
We gathered together Friday evening to welcome Shabbat with songs, prayers, and a chance to enjoy a Shabbat experience. After a meaningful Kabbalat Shabbat, we sat down to dinner in a Yurt and enjoyed the sunsetting as it meant we wouldn’t be so hot! Friday evening the teens had some free time where they played basketball, nuetgom, putt-putt, or just hung out.
On Saturday the teens had lots of free time to enjoy the ranch (more on that below) and we had a meaningful reflection program in small groups. To end Shabbat we did Havdalah and sang songs making for a great time and finished the evening by admiring the incredible stars with a star gazing walk.
After a relaxing Shabbat, the teens were rested and geared up for our hikes on Sunday morning. All day at Bryce Canyon we heard how much the teens appreciated the beauty of the views in the park and felt it had always been under-hyped as a popular landmark in the US. It truly is one-of-a-kind and was a great way to spend our first day of the new week. Here are the teens to provide their perspectives on some of our activities over the last few days. 
“When we ventured to Utah, we checked into a resort called Ponderosa Ranch. The place is really cool, with a wide variety of activities. Although my personal favorite was the pool, there was also a zipline, mini golf, paintball, and bungee jumping. The food was good, and we ate in what our tripper called a yurt (which was a large tent). The cabins are extremely nice, especially the showers. We had Shabbat services and activities to do as well, so the weekend was action packed. On Saturday night, most of us went stargazing. It was the most stars I have ever seen, and was really cool. All in all, the ranch was an extremely cool experience that I’m glad I got to have with Trek West.” ~ Jayden C
“Bryce Canyon was spectacular and it is unbelievable that it was completely created by nature. The rock formations appear to be almost identical to each other. It was so beautiful. We were able to view this breathtaking canyon as we hiked along its rim and then trekked down into a cave that was a part of the canyon. Even though some parts of the hike were a bit difficult, it was totally worth it for the spectacular scenery. We then hiked back up to have sandwiches and head out for our next adventure.” ~ Emily E
We returned to the ranch on Sunday afternoon and the teens had some time to hang out before dinner. After dinner, we played a funny game where students have to pair up and sing a part of a song while their partner sings the other part, and the person in the middle has to figure out which two people are a pair by matching the lyrics. It made for some really good laughs! We finished out the evening with ice cream sundaes and many of the teens either watched Princess Bride or hung out before going back to their cabins to pack. The teens are excited for tomorrow as we check out and head towards Angels Landing and then Las Vegas.
 All the best,Ari, Deb, Melissa, and Ilan  

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