On Shabbat Parashat Noach, the weekend of Oct. 19 through 21, nearly 100 Yeshiva Atlanta High School students hosted 31 eighth-graders from schools across metro Atlanta for YA’s 2012 Shabbaton.

Yeshiva Atlanta students, past and future, came together for a Shabbaton at Camp Blue Ridge. PHOTO / Yeshiva Atlanta

Thanks to the efforts of Jake Belinky and Elan Miller, the co-presidents of Yeshiva Atlanta’s Student Council, and the support of Ben Valenta (vice president), Jessica Nooriel (secretary) and Ethan Arbiser (treasurer), the students in attendance could not have asked for a better experience.

First, the setting was magnificent. Camp Blue Ridge was a gracious host, and the facilities – from the dining hall to the ball fields to the bunks – served perfectly. What’s more, the weather was terrific, with crisp, sunny days shining light on the colorful changing foliage.

Second, the ruach of all the students – from the eighth-graders to the YA seniors – was simply off the charts. The singing, dancing and interaction between all attendees was truly beautiful to behold, and student participation during davening and learning programs was equally impressive.

Lastly, the Shabbaton just plain fun:

On Oct. 19, the Color War was a great kick-off to the weekend, and friendly competitions broke out in Trivial Pursuit, ultimate Frisbee, dodgeball and “MMM&M” (Munching Massive amounts of M&M’s).

Afterwards, the students had time to relax and later enjoyed a lively Kabbalat Shabbat, a delicious dinner and an oneg filled with song and dancing.

Shabbat day, was a full one. Students took part in shacharit, musaf, kiddush and programming that included a to-the-final-question match of “So You Think You’re Smarter Than A Senior,” in which the Yeshiva 12th-graders narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of the eighth-graders.

Lunch, complete with singing and divrei Torah, followed, and then four programs – running concurrently in 30-minute rotations and featuring YA peer leaders and Yeshiva University guests – kept everyone busy.

As Shabbat evening came around, Yeshiva Atlanta students took some downtime to socialize and get to know the eighth-graders a bit better. Some sat and schmoozed on the grass in front of the dining hall, soaking up the last of the glorious afternoon sun, and a few accompanied Rabbi Reuven Travis, Student Council Faculty Co-Adviser, on a short hike to a waterfall on the camp’s property.

Then, after mincha came what most thought was the highlight of the Shabbaton – a seudah shlishit filled with stories, Torah, singing and more Shabbat dancing – and finally, the Motzei Shabbat bonfire and barbecue.

While the YA staff and counselors were convinced that there was no way to eat any more food after the luscious Shabbat meals and many snacks served throughout the day, the students proved them wrong – so many hamburgers, so many hot dogs.

Amanda Bunder, another faculty co-adviser to the Student Council, was thrilled with the proceedings.

“It was a special and inspiring Shabbaton, one which we believe gave our eighth-grade guests a glimpse of the unique character of Yeshiva Atlanta and the bond that exists among our students,” she said.

Yeshiva’s Director of Student Services, Dana Burchfield, concurred.

“I’ve been fielding phone calls and answering emails all day long from the parents of the eighth-graders who went with us on this Shabbaton,” she said. “The feedback from their children has been incredibly positive.”

YESHIVA ATLANTA /  For the Atlanta Jewish Times