Many may not know, but in 1997 JBBBS began to work globally creating partnerships in Israel. Big Brothers Big Sisters Israel just participated in an International Dragon Boat Festival in Israel. They were one of 29 teams to race on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Dragon boat racing is a dynamic team sport that originated in China centuries ago, but is now quickly gaining popularity around the world. We thought they had such a great time that we had to share their experience.
Maybe next time we can join!
From Big Brothers Big Sisters Israel
Last week we had the privilege to partake in an amazing and incredibly unique experience.
When we were approached 10 months ago by David Rose (CEO of Dragon Boat Israel) with an offer to participate in the Dragon Boat Festival we had never heard of the event before. We decided to test the waters ourselves and take a staff team training day to see what Dragon Boating was all about.
It was a great experience and so we decided to try and put together a group of 20 paddlers (10 matches – Littles and Bigs) to compete. The response rate was impressive and as we had to limit the participants (20 is the maximum of paddlers over the age of 12 allowed with at least 8 women on board to compete).
On Thursday May 28th we arrived to the festival with 13 matches (26 Bigs and Littles from 7 branches across the country- we just couldn’t let them down). Roi the CEO, Dorit the Director of Programming and Suzi the Jerusalem Branch Manager accompanied the happy and excited group on its journey.
After our scheduled practice session where we all got the hang of it we made our way to Hamat Gader hot springs where we spent the night at a wonderful campsite, enjoyed the pools and springs, BBQ and enjoyed a relaxing evening before the big day. There are so many teams with different stories, from different places, and we were honored to be part of it.
We awoke bright and early Friday morning (5:00AM!!!) packed up and arrived at the race site with great excitement. The event was festive and orchestrated tremendously by the Dragon Boat Israel dedicated crew. 29 teams from Israel, Australia and Canada competed in the race. Most of them with fit and practiced adult paddler and yet we managed to come in 22 place. We may not have won, but were a happy and satisfied group and we finished with a lot of energy and high moral.
We spent the rest of day at the beach watching the other paddlers and truly just having a blast!
It was amazing to see a group of total strangers become a family about an hour into our journey, each one respected and appreciated and everybody felt like they belonged. If you looked in on the group it wasn’t obvious that they weren’t really brothers and sisters to begin with. It was the team work and connection that made this such a successful experience. For all of us it was a new adventure.
We all arrived home on Friday just in time for a restful Shabbat with an aching and tired body but a happy soul, with great memories and new friends.
One of the Little Brothers in the group is celebrating his Bar-Mitzvah this weekend and asked his mother to invite all his new friends to the celebration and hopefully the group will soon reunite.
A once in a lifetime experience! (And hopefully we will get to enjoy it once again next year).
Thank you Dragon Boat Israel!