Georgia (Callaway Gardens)

The only thing I love more than traveling is traveling for cheap, so when I was endlessly pestered by my good friend to apply for our law school trip to Israel last year with the promise that all I’d pay for is my flight, travel insurance, and $150 program fee, I was so down.

That trip was one of the best experiences of my life, and—fast forward one year later—now I’m leading the same trip for a whole new group of people. The pestered has become the pesterer.

Part of being a leader includes going to a leadership orientation weekend with the company who subsidizes and helps us plan our trip, Israel & Co., which was this past weekend in Georgia. Basically, they take iTrek leaders from the top law, policy, and business schools in the country, bring them to Callaway Gardens, and let us have fun for a weekend together.

Let me tell you: I was not excited to go. I really, really did not want to. But, guys, wow. What. An. Experience.

First of all, I needed a weekend away. Lately something’s gotten me down, and I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels, not really getting anywhere. Maybe it’s that time of year, the transition from peak fall time into the holiday season, but whatever it is, I’ve been super down in the dumps. This weekend was exactly the cure I needed for that.

We’ve been planning our itinerary and having interest meetings at the law school for a little while now, but it was a surreal experience getting together with other top programs, like Harvard Kennedy and NYU Law and USC Marshall, in The Middle of Nowhere, Georgia. It felt a little like a networking weekend, but with less resume swapping and more booze.

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We were staying in both the Lodge and the Cabins at Callaway Gardens, and they just opened this adorable bar area called Cason’s Tap Room, named after the founder of the Gardens. After Shabbat dinner Friday night, Cason’s had a guitar player out on the deck, and the group of us danced and sang and drank Rosemary Gin Spritzers late into the night. Talk about group bonding.

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Saturday was filled with talks and group activities, but the highlight of the evening was, to everyone’s surprise, the Country Bash held at the Discovery Center. No one expected it to be fun. Everyone was wrong. We had an absolute blast.

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Gotta say, friends, the appetizers at that thing were NOT TO BE BELIEVED. AMAZING. PHENOMENAL. ESPECIALLY AFTER A WEEKEND FILLED WITH ONLY KOSHER-FRIENDLY OFFERINGS.

Truly, though, it was such a refreshing weekend meeting new people, bonding with those I already knew, and building this community of future professionals and leaders who all have a passion for Israel and introducing others to it. For a weekend I really wasn’t pumped about attending, it was exactly what my soul needed, and now I’m more excited than ever for our trip in March.

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The Chicago lawyer contingent. Man, do we look good.

 

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