Camping With Friends: Eighth Graders Spend Four Days in the Ozarks


Kayla Goldenberg

cody welton
Eighth grade students prepare to go canoeing on their trip. Photo by Cody Welton.

What is better than camping with your best friends? Since 2012, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) has offered a camping trip to eighth grade students that create everlasting friendships. With various activities like canoeing, archery, and hiking, it is no wonder students rave about this trip every year.

Every October, eighth grade students are taken on a four day camping trip into the Ozarks of Missouri led by Science Teacher Cody Welton. Welton is an experienced camper. He used to lead a trip to Arizona with HBHA’s seventh grade students and has gone camping several times with family and friends. Welton took the students, along with Director of Jewish life Zohar Flacks and General Music Teacher Nick Brown, to the Pulltite Campground along the Current River just outside of Jefferson City, Mo. During this trip, not only do students participate in exciting activities, but they bond as a class and gain trust in each other.

canoeing wuz fun
Canoeing down the river was a highlight of the camping trip. Photo by Cody Welton.

“The canoeing portion is the focal point of the trip, teaching the kids to work together to make their way down the river safely,” says Welton. When students return home from the trip, they tell stories of falling and losing things in the river, but never cease to come home happy.

“Although it was a struggle lugging my overflowing canoe to the shore, at the end of the day, I looked back and had fun,” says eighth grade student Mirra Goldenberg. Goldenberg had quite the first time experience canoeing. She adds, “I not only fell in, but when I was holding onto a tree for dear life, I heard Mr. Brown yelling over to me to let go and I started to float away.” Not all experiences are as traumatic.

Mirra Goldenberg (left) and Ayelet Schuster
Mirra Goldenberg (left) and Ayelet Schuster enjoyed the entire adventure, obstacles included. Photo by Cody Welton.

Eighth grader Eli Cohavi says, “I had a great time canoeing, I was often towards the front. When my friends fell out [of their canoes], I went and got their floating items out of the river.”

Along with canoeing, the students went on a day hike and visited an archery range. Many students even got a bullseye on their first try. The hike was a lengthy five miles through Rocky Falls. Ethan Herman thought the hike was “very relaxing.” Continued Herman, “We did lots of singing on the hike, but the best part was the view at the end of the hike.”
This trip not only helps students get through mighty struggles, but also strengthens friendships. “I was really nervous for this trip but I had so much fun,” says Josie Safir. Like Safir, we can all agree that this trip can create long lasting memories.