With many students separated, as some are doing school virtually from home and others are on campus, the ninth-graders were able to come together for an outdoor socially distanced kayaking trip at Oleta River State Park earlier this February.
Oleta River State Park, located in northeast Miami Dade County, is a top-rated tourist destination. Oleta’s attractions include its off-road bicycling and hiking trails, overnight rustic cabins, fishing pier, beach, pavilions, and kayaking trails. Oleta was the perfect place for Hillel to host this event because of the open space and scenic location, making this an incredible experience. After so much Zoom and in-class sessions, being in the open fresh air with friends was a welcome and refreshing retreat.
In the morning, students were dropped off at school, where they attended Tefilah. Afterward, three buses took everyone to Oleta. Oleta is not that far from campus, demonstrating that there truly are treasures in our own backyard.
Getting lifejackets and onto the kayaks was a quick and seamless process because everything was organized in advance. For distancing purposes, everyone had their own single kayak. Nonetheless, it was still easy to talk to people and make the most of this experience. One student, Carol Nicolaievsky, mentioned that “I thought that the trip was really fun and that it gave me a great chance to talk to my friends more out of school.”
Several teacher chaperones attended the kayaking trip at Oleta. To ensure that no student separated from the group while kayaking, several teachers stayed in the back so that no one trailed behind while other teachers stayed in front to guide everyone. Even though it was a big group, the kayaks were spaced out enough for the event to be Covid-safe. A few students joked that they were more worried about sharks than catching Covid-19. All in all, everyone was relaxed and had a good time. The weather was cool and breezy, and there couldn’t have been a nicer day to have this event.
Soon after, everyone took a short break by kayaking to the beach. The ninth-graders stopped to have fun on the sand and swim in the water. The beach was not crowded, allowing everyone the opportunity to properly social distance. Many students and teachers kayaked more to look for manatees before returning the kayaks to land.
Everyone headed to the pavilions where teachers handed out snacks and drinks. Students were able to reflect on the fun day and catch up with friends.
Lielle Daniel remarked, “It was an amazing social experience. I saw a lot of my friends that I haven’t seen in a while.” Overall, the kayaking trip was an incredibly fun event organized by Scheck Hillel. Students loved that Hillel thought of healthy outdoor trips like kayaking to stay active and together during these challenging times.