PHOTO BY WH ITEWATE R PHOTOGRAPHY
JENNIFER FINER STAFF WRITER
Getting splashed is part of
the fun on the New River.
Darren Findling, an avid camper and ad-
venturer, had an idea and he acted on
As a result, 81 young adults, most-
ly from the Detroit area, went camp-
ing, rafting, hiking, biking and rock
climbing in West Virginia over Memo-
rial Day weekend.
Mr. Findling, a 26-year-old attorney from Northville
and a Jewish Federation Young Adult Division liaison
to Camp Tamarack's Fresh Air Society board of direc-
tors, hoped to see a Jewish organization offer outdoor ac-
tivities for adults. No one in Detroit had ever planned
such an event.
Mr. Findling took his idea to Harvey Finkelberg, of
Camp Tamarack, who gave him the OK to plan a trip.
Mr. Findling said, "I definitely thought there was a
need for something. The response we got proved it was
Mr. Findling began to look at outdoor activities and
decided on a rafting trip on the New River in West Vir-
The trip cost participants $129, which covered camp-
ing, the use of Tamarack's tents, transportation, kosher
meals and rafting. Optional rock climbing and mountain
biking were extra.
Over 6,000 fliers went out to those on various mailing
lists, including Young Adult Division and Tamarack.
The number of responses exceeded the goal. In just two
weeks, at least 30 people signed up for the trip. In the end,
Tamarack took 81 people on two buses to West Virginia.
Trip participants met at the Maple-Drake Jewish Com-
munity Center early Friday morning. Ten hours later,
the buses arrived at the campsite. As participants set up
tents, Tamarack cooks prepared a Shabbat meal.
Saturday began with a brief morning service. Then
the group split up. Some went hiking. Others chose moun-
tain biking or rock climbing. On Sunday, everyone went
"I was a little unsure of how it would go," said Darren
Findling. "I was worried we were bringing people to-
gether with differing camping experiences and ages.
Would people get along? Would they have the same ex-
pectations? Because the trip was designed to meet in the
middle and appeal to the most people, everyone enjoyed
The response to the trip was overwhelmingly positive.
So positive, that Mr. Finkelberg said he would like to see
Tamarack offer similar adult excursions three times a
"We would like to do more in the way of camping for
Jewish adults in the community," Mr. Finkelberg said.
"It's a great way to keep people involved in camp. Hope-
fully, as time goes on, people will think about their ex-
periences and want to give back to the camp."
Farmington Hills residents Wendy Winkler and her hus-
band Jim Trick send their children to summer camp.
Memorial Day weekend was their chance to be campers.
Both enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors and were
looking for a weekend adventure.
"It was nice to get away from our jobs for a little while
and enjoy the outdoors," Mr. Trick said. "The trip was
well organized and everything ran smoothly. It was re-
laxing and really nice to do something different."
The weekend was especially unique for Eric Grodan
and Lori Brockman. After dating for several months,
the couple got engaged at a West Virginia rest stop.
Rick Woolman didn't get engaged over the weekend
but he "met a lot of really nice people, did some great
activities and had a lot of fun," he said. "It was a very
good group of people. Everyone interacted really well to-
gether. I made new friends and hopefully we will keep
in touch for years to come."
The ages of trip participants were as diverse as the
reasons people went to West Virginia.
Like Dr. Woolman, Andy Moss, 23, went because he
wanted to meet new people. He also wanted to try raft-
ing for the first time.
"I liked spending the weekend outside and being
around interesting people," said Mr. Moss, of Bloomfield
Hills. "I've never done any of this before. There was a
nice cross-section of people, with some just out of college,
others who were well-established in their careers and
people in between."
Traveling with Mr. Moss was his friend Scott Glick-
man and Mr. Glickman's girlfriend, Dawn Faxon. Mr.
Glickman's trip was a birthday present from Ms. Faxon,
who had her first camping experience.
David Persky was one of a few participants from out-
side the Detroit area. Mr. Persky, a resident of Davis-
burg and avid fan of the outdoors, says it's difficult to
meet other young Jewish adults. When he heard about
the trip, he immediately signed up.
"There are so many areas of the country I haven't
seen," Mr. Persky said. "The problem is finding a group
of people who are willing to go somewhere. Here, I just
signed up for something that was already organized.
It was nice that the trip was mostly Jewish people, be-
cause I don't get to meet many Jewish people where I
live and work."