Picture of stone formations in the Israel desert
SUMMER EXPERIENCES

GREAT LAKES SERVICE & ADVENTURE

Get back to the basics in the great American heartland on a 12-day summer experience that combines farm-based volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

  • At a Glance

    12 Days | Current Grades: 7-8

    Community Service: 15-20 Hours

    Location: Michigan & Illinois

  • Dates & Costs

    • Limited Availability
    • Limited Availability
    • Available
    • Available

    Land Cost: $2,650

  • Included:

    • Airport pick-up and drop-off (Chicago)
    • Accommodations (lodging is in private homes)
    • All meals
    • All programming
    • Private transportation
    • Gratuity for program staff

    NOTE: Medical insurance is not provided

  • Explore More:

Get back to the basics and explore the natural beauty of southwestern Michigan on a 12-day summer experience that combines volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

We gather in Chicago before heading to the massive dunes, extensive beaches, and rolling farmland of southwest Michigan. Here we’ll explore how our “chow” makes its way from the fields to the home. Prepare to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. We’ll be volunteering in the fields, learning the ancient skill of beekeeping, and experiencing the simple joys of life in a farm town. We’ll also connect with local artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who call this inviting community home.

Beyond the farm, adventure awaits in the great outdoors as we explore the lakes, rivers, and trails of Michigan’s Great Lakes coast. Together, we’ll pack a summer full of highlights into 12 days as we hike, bike, sail, kayak, swim, and climb our way through this beautiful corner of America.

As a Jewish experience, we’ll practice the values of tikkun olam (healing the world) through our volunteering and through the environmentally sustainable way of living that the program embraces. We’ll also celebrate a restful Shabbat on the farm and connect with fellow Jewish teens of all backgrounds as we experience meaningful and adventure-filled days together.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Play in the sand – the massive sand dunes – at Saugatuck on the coast of Lake Michigan
  • Master the art of balance as you stand up paddleboard on the calm water at Holland State Park
  • Cool off kayaking down the Lower Kalamazoo River – home to bald eagles and clear waters
  • Enjoy the expansive beaches along Lake Michigan – rivaling any beach on the coast!
  • Work alongside local organic farmers and learn how our food is transformed from seed to plate
  • Take in the full beauty of southwest Michigan bicycling along the Kal-Haven Trail
  • Challenge your body and mind at a tree line aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids
  • Learn how to cook from a master chef who specializes in farm-to-table cuisine
  • Get in touch with your creative side at an art workshop located in a heritage barn

IS IT RIGHT FOR ME?

Great Lakes Service & Adventure is appropriate for teens who appreciate active outdoors experiences and the simplicity of living on a farm. Teens will learn new skills preparing most meals as a community to be enjoyed together. The program includes 15-20 hours of hands-on volunteering and empowers teens to experience a different pace of life and discover new kinds of adventures along the way.

A confirmed itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the program.

GETTING ORIENTED (DAY 1):
All arrive in Chicago, IL. Depart for our home base in Southwest Michigan.

BIKE THE KAL-HAVEN TRAIL (DAY 2):
Take a bike ride through a scenic section of the Kal-Haven Trail, a former railroad linking South Haven to Kalamazoo. After we ride, we’ll explore Mount Baldhead Park and climb the 300 steps to get a birds-eye view of the Kalamazoo River below.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD (DAY 3):
Today, we head to Holland State Park to explore the sandy beaches and hit the water on our stand up paddle boards. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the North Ottawa Dunes to hike and enjoy the rugged scenery.

KAYAK TOUR AND ART BARN (DAY 4):
We’ll spend the first part of the day paddling around the Kalamazoo River, taking in the scenery and looking for deer, fox, osprey and an amazing assortment of birds who call these waters home. In the afternoon, we’ll tap into our artistic side at the Art Barn working on projects such as ceramics, jewelry making, wood working, or whatever your heart desires.

ORGANIC FARM COMMUNITY SERVICE (DAYS 5-9):
Our time at the farm will be spent planting, harvesting, and assisting with prep to sell at the farmers market. We’ll learn about the methods, regulations, and processes it takes to make a healthy plant environment a priority. Our afternoons are spent attending a chocolate making class, visiting a blueberry farm, exploring Downtown Holland, and conquering a forest aerial course. At the end of our farm service week, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients from many local farms, including some of what we have harvested ourselves!

SAUGATUCK DUNES AND SUNSET SAILING (DAY 10):
In the morning, we’ll enjoy all that Saugatuck Dunes State Park has to offer. The park resides along a private strip of Lake Michigan coastline and provides 1,000 acres of land to explore. In the evening, we’ll set sail across Lake Michigan and enjoy panoramic views of the sunset.

DUNE RIDE AND CLOSING (DAY 11):
To celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, we head to the Saugatuck Dunes to feel the wind in our hair as we traverse over the sand in a dune buggy! For dinner we’ll prepare a fresh meal with our Farmer’s Market finds and share a final banquet by the campfire.

HOMEWARD BOUND (DAY 12):
Head back to Chicago and say our goodbyes before catching flights home.

You have questions? We’ve got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Families are responsible for making their own flight arrangements to and from Chicago, Illinois. Detailed travel instructions will be provided in advance.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Lodging is on or near the farm. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) and a group leader. Staff names are sent out prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from warm to hot during a summer in the American Midwest. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 90s with cooler evenings. The clothing that teens pack should be lightweight and comfortable in hot temperatures. When the group is outside for an extended period of time, participants will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. These rules are strictly enforced because overexposure to the sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns.

How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

What are the typical group dynamics?
Although it varies from year to year, our projected group size is 20 teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America and beyond which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have clusters of friends from the same area travel together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.

NOTE: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program.

What’s the food like?
Our meals take a variety of forms and may include community cooking, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. When a meal is provided in a community cooking format, we will always ensure a vegetarian or pescatarian approach, but meals will not be certified kosher. However, we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

No connections or extensions are available for this program. View all connected program options here.

 

  • At a Glance

    12 Days | CURRENT GRADES: 7-8

    Community Service: 15-20 Hours


    Location: Michigan & Illinois

  • Dates & Costs

    • Limited Availability
    • Limited Availability
    • Available
    • Available

    Land Cost: $2,650


  • Included:

    • Airport pick-up and drop-off (Chicago)
    • Accommodations (lodging is in private homes)
    • All meals
    • All programming
    • Private transportation
    • Gratuity for program staff

    NOTE: Medical insurance is not provided

  • Explore More:

Get back to the basics and explore the natural beauty of southwestern Michigan on a 12-day summer experience that combines volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

We gather in Chicago before heading to the massive dunes, extensive beaches, and rolling farmland of southwest Michigan. Here we’ll explore how our “chow” makes its way from the fields to the home. Prepare to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. We’ll be volunteering in the fields, learning the ancient skill of beekeeping, and experiencing the simple joys of life in a farm town. We’ll also connect with local artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who call this inviting community home.

Beyond the farm, adventure awaits in the great outdoors as we explore the lakes, rivers, and trails of Michigan’s Great Lakes coast. Together, we’ll pack a summer full of highlights into 12 days as we hike, bike, sail, kayak, swim, and climb our way through this beautiful corner of America.

As a Jewish experience, we’ll practice the values of tikkun olam (healing the world) through our volunteering and through the environmentally sustainable way of living that the program embraces. We’ll also celebrate a restful Shabbat on the farm and connect with fellow Jewish teens of all backgrounds as we experience meaningful and adventure-filled days together.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Play in the sand – the massive sand dunes – at Saugatuck on the coast of Lake Michigan
  • Master the art of balance as you stand up paddleboard on the calm water at Holland State Park
  • Cool off kayaking down the Lower Kalamazoo River – home to bald eagles and clear waters
  • Enjoy the expansive beaches along Lake Michigan – rivaling any beach on the coast!
  • Work alongside local organic farmers and learn how our food is transformed from seed to plate
  • Take in the full beauty of southwest Michigan bicycling along the Kal-Haven Trail
  • Challenge your body and mind at a tree line aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids
  • Learn how to cook from a master chef who specializes in farm-to-table cuisine
  • Get in touch with your creative side at an art workshop located in a heritage barn

IS IT RIGHT FOR ME?

Great Lakes Service & Adventure is appropriate for teens who appreciate active outdoors experiences and the simplicity of living on a farm. Teens will learn new skills preparing most meals as a community to be enjoyed together. The program includes 15-20 hours of hands-on volunteering and empowers teens to experience a different pace of life and discover new kinds of adventures along the way.

A confirmed itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the program.

GETTING ORIENTED (DAY 1):
All arrive in Chicago, IL. Depart for our home base in Southwest Michigan.

BIKE THE KAL-HAVEN TRAIL (DAY 2):
Take a bike ride through a scenic section of the Kal-Haven Trail, a former railroad linking South Haven to Kalamazoo. After we ride, we’ll explore Mount Baldhead Park and climb the 300 steps to get a birds-eye view of the Kalamazoo River below.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD (DAY 3):
Today, we head to Holland State Park to explore the sandy beaches and hit the water on our stand up paddle boards. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the North Ottawa Dunes to hike and enjoy the rugged scenery.

KAYAK TOUR AND ART BARN (DAY 4):
We’ll spend the first part of the day paddling around the Kalamazoo River, taking in the scenery and looking for deer, fox, osprey and an amazing assortment of birds who call these waters home. In the afternoon, we’ll tap into our artistic side at the Art Barn working on projects such as ceramics, jewelry making, wood working, or whatever your heart desires.

ORGANIC FARM COMMUNITY SERVICE (DAYS 5-9):
Our time at the farm will be spent planting, harvesting, and assisting with prep to sell at the farmers market. We’ll learn about the methods, regulations, and processes it takes to make a healthy plant environment a priority. Our afternoons are spent attending a chocolate making class, visiting a blueberry farm, exploring Downtown Holland, and conquering a forest aerial course. At the end of our farm service week, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients from many local farms, including some of what we have harvested ourselves!

SAUGATUCK DUNES AND SUNSET SAILING (DAY 10):
In the morning, we’ll enjoy all that Saugatuck Dunes State Park has to offer. The park resides along a private strip of Lake Michigan coastline and provides 1,000 acres of land to explore. In the evening, we’ll set sail across Lake Michigan and enjoy panoramic views of the sunset.

DUNE RIDE AND CLOSING (DAY 11):
To celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, we head to the Saugatuck Dunes to feel the wind in our hair as we traverse over the sand in a dune buggy! For dinner we’ll prepare a fresh meal with our Farmer’s Market finds and share a final banquet by the campfire.

HOMEWARD BOUND (DAY 12):
Head back to Chicago and say our goodbyes before catching flights home.

You have questions? We’ve got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Families are responsible for making their own flight arrangements to and from Chicago, Illinois. Detailed travel instructions will be provided in advance.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Lodging is on or near the farm. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) and a group leader. Staff names are sent out prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from warm to hot during a summer in the American Midwest. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 90s with cooler evenings. The clothing that teens pack should be lightweight and comfortable in hot temperatures. When the group is outside for an extended period of time, participants will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. These rules are strictly enforced because overexposure to the sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns.

How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

What are the typical group dynamics?
Although it varies from year to year, our projected group size is 20 teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America and beyond which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have clusters of friends from the same area travel together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.

NOTE: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program.

What’s the food like?
Our meals take a variety of forms and may include community cooking, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. When a meal is provided in a community cooking format, we will always ensure a vegetarian or pescatarian approach, but meals will not be certified kosher. However, we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

No connections or extensions are available for this program. View all connected program options here.

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

GREAT LAKES SERVICE & ADVENTURE

Get back to the basics in the great American heartland on a 12-day summer experience that combines farm-based volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

GREAT LAKES SERVICE & ADVENTURE

Get back to the basics in the great American heartland on a 12-day summer experience that combines farm-based volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

  • At a Glance

    12 Days | Current Grades: 7-8

    Community Service: 15-20 Hours

    Location: Michigan & Illinois

  • Dates & Costs

    • Limited Availability
    • Limited Availability
    • Available
    • Available

    Land Cost: $2,650

  • Included:

    • Airport pick-up and drop-off (Chicago)
    • Accommodations (lodging is in private homes)
    • All meals
    • All programming
    • Private transportation
    • Gratuity for program staff

    NOTE: Medical insurance is not provided

  • Explore More:

Get back to the basics and explore the natural beauty of southwestern Michigan on a 12-day summer experience that combines volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

We gather in Chicago before heading to the massive dunes, extensive beaches, and rolling farmland of southwest Michigan. Here we’ll explore how our “chow” makes its way from the fields to the home. Prepare to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. We’ll be volunteering in the fields, learning the ancient skill of beekeeping, and experiencing the simple joys of life in a farm town. We’ll also connect with local artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who call this inviting community home.

Beyond the farm, adventure awaits in the great outdoors as we explore the lakes, rivers, and trails of Michigan’s Great Lakes coast. Together, we’ll pack a summer full of highlights into 12 days as we hike, bike, sail, kayak, swim, and climb our way through this beautiful corner of America.

As a Jewish experience, we’ll practice the values of tikkun olam (healing the world) through our volunteering and through the environmentally sustainable way of living that the program embraces. We’ll also celebrate a restful Shabbat on the farm and connect with fellow Jewish teens of all backgrounds as we experience meaningful and adventure-filled days together.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Play in the sand – the massive sand dunes – at Saugatuck on the coast of Lake Michigan
  • Master the art of balance as you stand up paddleboard on the calm water at Holland State Park
  • Cool off kayaking down the Lower Kalamazoo River – home to bald eagles and clear waters
  • Enjoy the expansive beaches along Lake Michigan – rivaling any beach on the coast!
  • Work alongside local organic farmers and learn how our food is transformed from seed to plate
  • Take in the full beauty of southwest Michigan bicycling along the Kal-Haven Trail
  • Challenge your body and mind at a tree line aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids
  • Learn how to cook from a master chef who specializes in farm-to-table cuisine
  • Get in touch with your creative side at an art workshop located in a heritage barn

IS IT RIGHT FOR ME?

Great Lakes Service & Adventure is appropriate for teens who appreciate active outdoors experiences and the simplicity of living on a farm. Teens will learn new skills preparing most meals as a community to be enjoyed together. The program includes 15-20 hours of hands-on volunteering and empowers teens to experience a different pace of life and discover new kinds of adventures along the way.

A confirmed itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the program.

GETTING ORIENTED (DAY 1):
All arrive in Chicago, IL. Depart for our home base in Southwest Michigan.

BIKE THE KAL-HAVEN TRAIL (DAY 2):
Take a bike ride through a scenic section of the Kal-Haven Trail, a former railroad linking South Haven to Kalamazoo. After we ride, we’ll explore Mount Baldhead Park and climb the 300 steps to get a birds-eye view of the Kalamazoo River below.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD (DAY 3):
Today, we head to Holland State Park to explore the sandy beaches and hit the water on our stand up paddle boards. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the North Ottawa Dunes to hike and enjoy the rugged scenery.

KAYAK TOUR AND ART BARN (DAY 4):
We’ll spend the first part of the day paddling around the Kalamazoo River, taking in the scenery and looking for deer, fox, osprey and an amazing assortment of birds who call these waters home. In the afternoon, we’ll tap into our artistic side at the Art Barn working on projects such as ceramics, jewelry making, wood working, or whatever your heart desires.

ORGANIC FARM COMMUNITY SERVICE (DAYS 5-9):
Our time at the farm will be spent planting, harvesting, and assisting with prep to sell at the farmers market. We’ll learn about the methods, regulations, and processes it takes to make a healthy plant environment a priority. Our afternoons are spent attending a chocolate making class, visiting a blueberry farm, exploring Downtown Holland, and conquering a forest aerial course. At the end of our farm service week, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients from many local farms, including some of what we have harvested ourselves!

SAUGATUCK DUNES AND SUNSET SAILING (DAY 10):
In the morning, we’ll enjoy all that Saugatuck Dunes State Park has to offer. The park resides along a private strip of Lake Michigan coastline and provides 1,000 acres of land to explore. In the evening, we’ll set sail across Lake Michigan and enjoy panoramic views of the sunset.

DUNE RIDE AND CLOSING (DAY 11):
To celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, we head to the Saugatuck Dunes to feel the wind in our hair as we traverse over the sand in a dune buggy! For dinner we’ll prepare a fresh meal with our Farmer’s Market finds and share a final banquet by the campfire.

HOMEWARD BOUND (DAY 12):
Head back to Chicago and say our goodbyes before catching flights home.

You have questions? We’ve got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Families are responsible for making their own flight arrangements to and from Chicago, Illinois. Detailed travel instructions will be provided in advance.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Lodging is on or near the farm. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) and a group leader. Staff names are sent out prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from warm to hot during a summer in the American Midwest. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 90s with cooler evenings. The clothing that teens pack should be lightweight and comfortable in hot temperatures. When the group is outside for an extended period of time, participants will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. These rules are strictly enforced because overexposure to the sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns.

How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

What are the typical group dynamics?
Although it varies from year to year, our projected group size is 20 teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America and beyond which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have clusters of friends from the same area travel together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.

NOTE: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program.

What’s the food like?
Our meals take a variety of forms and may include community cooking, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. When a meal is provided in a community cooking format, we will always ensure a vegetarian or pescatarian approach, but meals will not be certified kosher. However, we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

No connections or extensions are available for this program. View all connected program options here.

 

  • At a Glance

    12 Days | CURRENT GRADES: 7-8

    Community Service: 15-20 Hours


    Location: Michigan & Illinois

  • Dates & Costs

    • Limited Availability
    • Limited Availability
    • Available
    • Available

    Land Cost: $2,650


  • Included:

    • Airport pick-up and drop-off (Chicago)
    • Accommodations (lodging is in private homes)
    • All meals
    • All programming
    • Private transportation
    • Gratuity for program staff

    NOTE: Medical insurance is not provided

  • Explore More:

Get back to the basics and explore the natural beauty of southwestern Michigan on a 12-day summer experience that combines volunteering, sustainable living, and outdoor adventure.

We gather in Chicago before heading to the massive dunes, extensive beaches, and rolling farmland of southwest Michigan. Here we’ll explore how our “chow” makes its way from the fields to the home. Prepare to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. We’ll be volunteering in the fields, learning the ancient skill of beekeeping, and experiencing the simple joys of life in a farm town. We’ll also connect with local artists, educators, and entrepreneurs who call this inviting community home.

Beyond the farm, adventure awaits in the great outdoors as we explore the lakes, rivers, and trails of Michigan’s Great Lakes coast. Together, we’ll pack a summer full of highlights into 12 days as we hike, bike, sail, kayak, swim, and climb our way through this beautiful corner of America.

As a Jewish experience, we’ll practice the values of tikkun olam (healing the world) through our volunteering and through the environmentally sustainable way of living that the program embraces. We’ll also celebrate a restful Shabbat on the farm and connect with fellow Jewish teens of all backgrounds as we experience meaningful and adventure-filled days together.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Play in the sand – the massive sand dunes – at Saugatuck on the coast of Lake Michigan
  • Master the art of balance as you stand up paddleboard on the calm water at Holland State Park
  • Cool off kayaking down the Lower Kalamazoo River – home to bald eagles and clear waters
  • Enjoy the expansive beaches along Lake Michigan – rivaling any beach on the coast!
  • Work alongside local organic farmers and learn how our food is transformed from seed to plate
  • Take in the full beauty of southwest Michigan bicycling along the Kal-Haven Trail
  • Challenge your body and mind at a tree line aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids
  • Learn how to cook from a master chef who specializes in farm-to-table cuisine
  • Get in touch with your creative side at an art workshop located in a heritage barn

IS IT RIGHT FOR ME?

Great Lakes Service & Adventure is appropriate for teens who appreciate active outdoors experiences and the simplicity of living on a farm. Teens will learn new skills preparing most meals as a community to be enjoyed together. The program includes 15-20 hours of hands-on volunteering and empowers teens to experience a different pace of life and discover new kinds of adventures along the way.

A confirmed itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 2-3 weeks prior to the start of the program.

GETTING ORIENTED (DAY 1):
All arrive in Chicago, IL. Depart for our home base in Southwest Michigan.

BIKE THE KAL-HAVEN TRAIL (DAY 2):
Take a bike ride through a scenic section of the Kal-Haven Trail, a former railroad linking South Haven to Kalamazoo. After we ride, we’ll explore Mount Baldhead Park and climb the 300 steps to get a birds-eye view of the Kalamazoo River below.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD (DAY 3):
Today, we head to Holland State Park to explore the sandy beaches and hit the water on our stand up paddle boards. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the North Ottawa Dunes to hike and enjoy the rugged scenery.

KAYAK TOUR AND ART BARN (DAY 4):
We’ll spend the first part of the day paddling around the Kalamazoo River, taking in the scenery and looking for deer, fox, osprey and an amazing assortment of birds who call these waters home. In the afternoon, we’ll tap into our artistic side at the Art Barn working on projects such as ceramics, jewelry making, wood working, or whatever your heart desires.

ORGANIC FARM COMMUNITY SERVICE (DAYS 5-9):
Our time at the farm will be spent planting, harvesting, and assisting with prep to sell at the farmers market. We’ll learn about the methods, regulations, and processes it takes to make a healthy plant environment a priority. Our afternoons are spent attending a chocolate making class, visiting a blueberry farm, exploring Downtown Holland, and conquering a forest aerial course. At the end of our farm service week, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients from many local farms, including some of what we have harvested ourselves!

SAUGATUCK DUNES AND SUNSET SAILING (DAY 10):
In the morning, we’ll enjoy all that Saugatuck Dunes State Park has to offer. The park resides along a private strip of Lake Michigan coastline and provides 1,000 acres of land to explore. In the evening, we’ll set sail across Lake Michigan and enjoy panoramic views of the sunset.

DUNE RIDE AND CLOSING (DAY 11):
To celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, we head to the Saugatuck Dunes to feel the wind in our hair as we traverse over the sand in a dune buggy! For dinner we’ll prepare a fresh meal with our Farmer’s Market finds and share a final banquet by the campfire.

HOMEWARD BOUND (DAY 12):
Head back to Chicago and say our goodbyes before catching flights home.

You have questions? We’ve got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Families are responsible for making their own flight arrangements to and from Chicago, Illinois. Detailed travel instructions will be provided in advance.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Lodging is on or near the farm. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) and a group leader. Staff names are sent out prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from warm to hot during a summer in the American Midwest. Daytime temperatures range from the 70s to 90s with cooler evenings. The clothing that teens pack should be lightweight and comfortable in hot temperatures. When the group is outside for an extended period of time, participants will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. These rules are strictly enforced because overexposure to the sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns.

How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

What are the typical group dynamics?
Although it varies from year to year, our projected group size is 20 teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America and beyond which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have clusters of friends from the same area travel together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.

NOTE: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program.

What’s the food like?
Our meals take a variety of forms and may include community cooking, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. When a meal is provided in a community cooking format, we will always ensure a vegetarian or pescatarian approach, but meals will not be certified kosher. However, we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

No connections or extensions are available for this program. View all connected program options here.

 

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