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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

So Long to the Squad! – California Community Service


We cannot believe the trip has come to an end! Although we were sad to see it end, our last few days were packed full of quality time together. We completed our third and final day at the Boys and Girls Club of South Bay. The morning started with Louis, Katie, Zach, Alana, Adam, Savannah, Amanda and Tsippy organizing and participating in a giant game of terminator while Lily and Abigail painted, Blayne cheered on the Just Dance dancers and Lizzie played with Stephanie (she did not leave Lizzie’s side the whole day)! The day continued with more arts and crafts (puppet making), board games and sports. At the end of the day the site manager, Esther, called all the kids in to the gym to say goodbye to us. They had secretly painted and signed a thank you banner for us and gave it to us before we left. It was such a nice gesture and a great way to end our amazing time there. It was a bittersweet ending as we had such a great time with the kids, but as we were leaving Gigi was seen crying in Lily’s lap and Diego was also sad to see Alana, Savannah and Abigail go. It was such a pleasure to volunteer there and all the trip members will remember the experience forever. We needed a good laugh after leaving the kids so that night we headed off to The Improv for dinner and a comedy show. Blayne really enjoyed the band that was entertaining us over dinner. The acts were funny with everyone especially finding the first and last act hilarious. After that action-packed day, we went back to the dorms for our closing activities, which resulted in the trip members hanging out laughing and Adam, Katie, Amanda and Alana doing yoga poses in the hallway before finally going to bed.

After a nice sleep-in we all left the dorms for our last beach day. We headed to Manhattan Beach to enjoy some sun, sand and surf! Louis and Zach immediately starting throwing the football around as soon as we found a place to put up the umbrella and lay down our towels. Katie and Lily were the first to go into the refreshing ocean waves with Louis and Zach following not long after. The rest of the trip members were more than content to just hang out with each other on the beach. A few of the trip members wanted to capture the last beach day with some photos before we left to get ready for a night out in Hollywood. We arrived at Hollywood and Highland before sunset to get a good view of the sign. Lizzie pointed out that the ‘D’ was slightly off and Savannah let us know that it used to say Hollywoodland. We all headed down to Mann’s Chinese Theatre to see the handprints of the stars. Louis, Lily and Katie enjoyed a nice dinner at California Pizza Kitchen (Louis said it was the best pizza he ever had) followed by dessert at the Ghirardelli chocolate store. Amanda, Tsippy, Blayne and Zach enjoyed a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant and Alana, Adam, Savannah, and Abigail tried to top their eating from 3rd street promenade while Lizzie cheered them on. It was time to head back to the dorms for a rest after another successful day.

Our final day as the squad on this trip had sadly arrived. We all had our last breakfast together in the cafeteria and then the trip members began to pack. UCLA had become our home over the past 10 days, and the trip members were living like it! After the first of a few packing sessions was over we all made our way to Universal Studios for the day. When we arrived at the park the group headed to the back lot for a studio tour. The tram took as around the active sound stages and sets where we got to see the stage where they were currently filming the blind auditions for the next season of The Voice, the set of Back to the Future and Wisteria Lane of Desperate Housewives. We also went on a King Kong 3D ride where the trip members could be heard screaming as the dinosaurs and gorillas of Skull Island trampled the tram. The tour took us to see how water effects were made and we were all victims of a flash flood (we only got slightly wet luckily) and how they create earthquakes in a New York City subway. Of course we can’t forget the stop at Amity Island to visit Jaws. The trip members then had some fun on the rides, although at the end of the day I think Tsippy was most excited about her picture with a minion. We followed the day at the park with a final dinner together at Buca Di Beppo. When we returned to the dorms the trip members were given another opportunity to pack and then we gathered for our final evening session. Since we arrived in California we have been doing to nightly rituals. The first is called the ‘shmeryl.’ It is a plastic star recovered from beneath the sand on our very first beach day. It was tied to string and made into a necklace that was passed to a different trip member each night with a rhyming poem. The trip member who had the shmeryl for the day was to write the poem for another trip member, read it at the evening session and pass the shmeryl along. On the last night it was Blayne who had to give the final poem, and instead of giving it to a person she created a great poem about the trip! We then continued with our second evening ritual of each person sharing a high and low for the day. Zach started this night, which was not surprising as he was always eager to share and enthusiastic to participate in various activities. He not only wanted to say his high and low for the day, but also the trip. For many trip members the lows were that our journey together was coming to an end, but they all shared their favorite times from the trip, such as surfing, the first two days of Habitat for Humanity, the football game, the first time we played volleyball and the Boys and Girls Club of South Bay, as their highs. Of course, Lizzie provided us with one of her amazing metaphors comparing the trip to the rides at Universal Studios. She never fails to amaze us! Finally as a special addition to the evening session each trip member was given a photo book with a few pictures from the trip and a card from each of the other trip members, a memory and kind words from friends to take away from the trip. A spontaneous game of catch with the football began, just as it did on that first beach day when we were all getting to know each other. When we finally went back inside Louis, Zach and Adam N. did their nightly workout (as they have been doing every night of the trip) and then the trip members all spent some time just hanging out together. As it was still dark out we all said our goodbyes and parted ways at the airport, many of the goodbyes included plans to see each other after the trip as friendships had formed that will last a lifetime. Thank you to each and every trip member for sharing the experiences of these last three weeks and making it a memorable one! Thank you parents for giving your child this opportunity and for sharing our experiences through the blog. Now it is home for a rest, so long Cali community service!

 The Westcoast Blogger

Boys and Girls Club

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