December 27, 2022

A Weekend at Westwind

This blog post was written by Sam M., an 18-year-old participant in the Tivnu 9 cohort from New Jersey. He interns at Tivnu construction and at the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project. In his free time, Sam enjoys writing, learning about history, and arguing.

Sam in the sukkah

On Friday, all the members of Tivnu took off from their internships or construction and went to Westwind, a camp on the Oregon coast, along with Adinah and Steve’s families. After packing, the traveler’s prayer, and an hour or two of driving, we arrived at the beautiful coastal grounds of the camp. The natural setting was extraordinary, with the camp both in the forest and right on the beach – the Pacific on the west, and the Salmon River to the north, still within the camp grounds. Seeing the Oregon coast for the first time felt like being back at Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore for me. It felt so weird yet so cool to see the beach again, and in Oregon where I didn’t expect it to look anything similar to the beaches I was used to. 

We grouped up on the deck of the main building and went over safety rules. Afterwards, we unpacked our things in our cabins and got to explore the campgrounds. That afternoon, we all did different activities: some of us went upstairs above the dining hall to play cards and other games, and others went down to the beach. After some free time, we all gathered upstairs to say prayers and sing songs for Shabbat. After Shabbat dinner, I went back to playing cards with Ilan, Izaac, Nate, and Nat. We stayed up extremely late having an awesome time laughing hysterically playing games like Pres and Jungle Speed. We had a great time (and eventually we all went to bed).

The next morning is when the fun really started at Westwind. There were two archery lessons and a canoeing/kayaking outing. I was part of the group that went canoeing, alongside David, Steve and his partner Deborah and their son Lev, our RAs Danielle and Hadara, and several other Tivnuniks. I was in a canoe with Izaac and Zac. We got to see all kinds of cool things while canoeing, including seals poking their heads out of the water, eagles flying above us, herons gliding across the water, and plenty of fish, crabs and other wildlife moving past us as we paddled through the water. The water got so still and so clear at one point that we could see our reflections in it. The best parts were whenever we would stop the canoe and just sit on the river; having a conversation while in the stillness felt so calming and isolated in a good way, like we were in our own little world. When it was time to head back to the shore, we raced Nat, Nate, and Ilan’s canoe (we won). 

Our canoe greets Danielle and Shira’s canoe

That night, all the Tivnuniks had a big campfire along with Steve and Adinah’s families to end Shabbat. We said the havdalah prayers, then roasted marshmallows and sang songs while Lex played guitar. Afterward, Sophie, Tara, Izaac, Ben, Nate, Zac, Nat, and I went down to the beach. We saw the full night sky with nothing blocking it, and it looked amazing. You could see all of the stars plus a few planets up in the sky, and it looked as clear and intricate and beautiful as a tapestry, or something you would see in a planetarium, except this was real. On top of that, there was a  crescent moon in the sky glowing a bright yellow, and it made the hills look beautiful as well.

Enjoying the campfire with my fellow Tivnuniks Sasha and Izaac

I thought the night sky would be the coolest thing I would see on the trip, until I heard one of my friends calling out from further down the beach. It turned out there was bioluminescent algae in the sand closer to the water. Stepping on the sand there would make a bunch of scattered purpleish sparkles glow in the area you’d stepped in. Kicking the sand would make the sparks scatter across the ground, and it looked so cool. It was like a mini night sky in the sand. Getting to sit and sing by a campfire with everyone, and play in the sand with them afterwards made it feel like the community we had started to build in Tivnu was strengthened even further that night.

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