After davening and breakfast, the Yeshiva of Central Queens fifth graders boarded buses for their annual trip to Greenkill Retreat Center, a nature program in upstate New York. On Wednesday morning, January 9, the students began their overnight journey. Students were split into groups and, upon arrival, they were introduced to their naturalists with whom they would spend the next two days hiking, participating in team-building activities, and facing challenging activities like crossing the rope bridge.

With their naturalists, each group participated in various team-building icebreakers. The students learned about nature, the importance of protecting the environment, and safety and survival skills, from making compasses to help guide them, and how to build a shelter and a fire in the woods. After a full day of hiking on trails, visiting a waterfall, and gaining new outdoor skills, the students enjoyed a gourmet barbecue followed by a bird show. At the Birds of Prey show, students met owls, a vulture, and a falcon. They learned about the role each bird has in protecting our environment. After the show, the students, YCQ chaperones, and the naturalists headed to the dining hall for singing by the fire. The YCQ students had a kumsitz to end a long, exciting day before returning to their bunkhouses.

Following each meal, divrei Torah were given by students Assaf Davidov, Benjamin Toobian, Dalia Leitner, Rena Schwartz, Buttercup Shwebel, Layla Eisenberg, and Zev Farber. All students participated in a Torah-learning session with Rabbi Joshua Rohr, one of the chaperones and a fifth grade rebbe. This trip affords students and staff the opportunity to learn about the outdoors through hands-on team-building and challenge activities, increasing the cohesiveness of the students as a grade as they learn to work together, and problem-solve as a group while challenging themselves physically, mentally, and socially.