INWARD BOUND: URBANITE RENEWAL WITH A JEWISH FLAVOR
by Ruth Raisner
(continued from page 1)
No Mr. America
As for the male participants, Kasowitz emphasizes that one needn't be Mr. America to qualify for Inward Bound.
This is a trip almost anyone can do," he says. "On our first trip, we had men in their 60's paddling alongside men in their 20's." He does advise, however, that those with more sedentary lifestyles work up to the trip by increasing their exercise beforehand. "And please - no cardiac patients," he adds, smiling.
This does not mean that he is unprepared for medical emergencies. To begin with, every guide brings a flare gun to alert camp rangers if necessary, and Kasowitz makes sure his outfitters are familiar with each trip's itinerary before he sets out. He carries a standard first aid kit, as well as insect repellent, sun block and other non-prescription remedies. He also attempts to include one physician on each ten-person trip. And finally, he points out, one can truly rely on the good will of the camping population at BWCA.
"People watch out for each other at the Boundary Waters," he says. "if anyone has a problem, you can bet someone will either assist or paddle over to the nearest ranger station for help.
Kasowitz also avoids overtaxing the participants by making sure that each is capable of carrying his own weight. Most of the Inward Bound trips are for adults only, but there is at least one Father-and-Son trip each summer.
These are wonderful bonding opportunities for fathers and sons, but itís not going to happen a the child can't hold his own and the father ends up laboring under a double workload," he explains. "I always insist that a boy be at least bar mitzvah (13 years old) and physically mature enough to handle the exercise.
And what of those who would not recognize a bar mitzvah a they saw one - i.e., men with little or no Jewish background?
"Participation in the Jewish aspect of Inward Bound is optional," Kasowitz says. "Our food, of course, is entirely kosher, and we hold prayers, but the campers decide for themselves whether or not to take part. The whole point of the trip is for people to feel release from pressure. I would never violate that freedom."
There are, on the other hand, campers who prefer more Jewish content along with their fishing. For them, Kasowitz offers study sessions and, on some of the trips, guest speakers. A favorite among these is Rabbi Manis Friedman, dean of the Bais Chana school in St. Paul and author of the popular book, "Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore?" Another frequent guest is Zale Newman, known to thousands of Jewish families through his recordings with "Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men."
Ultimately, however, each person's Inward Bound experience is determined by the individual's own needs and personality. Ken Storch, a 38-year end New Jersey internist specializing in nutrition/metabolism, found himself reviewing his life and his goals last summer.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to do some soul-searching without the usual interruptions telephone, fax machine, beepers. 1 can't say I emerged a different person, but between the opportunity to reflect, the company of Rabbi Kasowitz and Rabbi Lew [guest speaker Rabbi Shmuel Lew of London], the fishing, the meteor shower and the Northern Lights, it was certainly the experience of a lifetime.
Storch's wife, Helene, spent the five days of her husband's trip studying at Bais Chana with women from all over the world. In addition to enjoying her own experience, she was thrilled at Ken's obvious refreshment when his group returned.
"He was in such a state of relaxation, so calm," she says. Then, laughing, she recalls the priorities of another member of his group.
"Here they were, all pleasantly tired and sweaty, all headed directly for the showers, except for one man who made a beeline for Mrs. Kasowitz and asked plaintively,
"'Do you have any more of that farfel?"'
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