We started our 9th day in Israel with a sad farewell to Kibbutz Ketura, leaving the high-tech algae farm and massive solar fields behind.  After playing some games together on the bus, we arrived to our first activity of the day, Makhtesh Ramon or the Ramon crater.  We learned about IIan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut to ever go into space on the Colombia shuttle. Ilan and the other 7 astronauts aboard the Colombia tragically died when the shuttle disintegrated upon reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. However his bravery was duly noted and memorialized by the naming of the crater. We also learned about the crater itself. The crater, stretching 25 miles long, 4 miles wide, and 1,640 ft deep was formed 10 million years ago by extremely erosive wind and water. We also  watched a short video documentary about the exotic animals within the crater, making us paranoid for our camping trip later that night. The view of the crater was stunning and for a moment we were beyond words, giving David and Bri a brief, but peaceful moment of silence.DSCF6830 After baking in the desert sun, we all happily returned to the air conditioned bus and traveled to the community of Nitzana, where we completed an outdoor training course. The challenging courses involved lots of sweating, laughing, and creativity, reminding us of the Etgar courses back at camp! After these courses, we talked about issues affecting the modern world and held up statement cards whether we cared/would respond or not to these issues. Then the group leaders showed pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, David Ben Gurion, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks, and explained to us the world altering impacts our actions can have if we choose to respond to problems.DSCF6832 After such an eventful day, we set up camp in Ein Avdat in the Negev. We waited for it to get dark, then excitedly marched to a nearby field, mattresses in hand for some reflective stargazing and meditation. We ended the night by roasting kosher Israeli s’mores and crawling into our sleeping bags for another good night sleep.
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