Exploration Week

Every spring, Gann students delve deeply into new realms via the signature Exploration Week experience. 

Students challenge themselves in new ways by traveling and learning about other cultures, participating in intensive community service projects, and developing firsthand skills and knowledge that they would not otherwise gain in a classroom setting. Students discover new interests and at the end of the week walk away with a better sense of their self and their community.

Below is the list of Exploration Week adventures for 2020.

List of 10 items.

  • Art Through the Ages: Creating Beauty and Connection

    Do you like art? Are you looking for a creative and rewarding experience that connects you with a community through art? Students who attend this Explo Week will develop a broader sense of what community is and how the arts can be a bridge to create that connection.

    We will be partnering with NewBridge, a multigeneration senior living center, during the week-long program with the goal of creating collaborative art. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others who have very different stories from your own, explore various ways of making art, make a difference in the lives of others, and share your own experiences, stories, and culture. Community service hours will be available.

    Location: Boston metro area
  • Choose Your own Adventure

    We have a van and we have a budget. The rest is up to you!
    This trip will be planned entirely by the people who sign up for it. We will draw from the talents of the group and the Gann-valued skills involved in negotiation, research, civil discourse, leadership, organization, creativity, community, curiosity, and adventure to design and then enjoy a week of exploration in New England.
    Participants on this trip agree to commit to attending planning meetings once a month starting in January and doing research and planning in between meetings. If you don’t make it happen, it won’t happen.
    This trip is for folks who love adventure, are curious and interested in learning from experience, and love to explore new things with other people.

    Location: Boston, MA
  • Connecting the Drops: Water, our most precious resource

    No one can live without water. Yet, we often take water for granted. Where does the water you use come from and where does it go after it goes down the drain?

    This local trip will explore local waters and the creatures that live in them. We will:

    • Kayak the Charles River from Newton to Waltham with a naturalist
    • Visit the New England Aquarium
    • Take a Whale Watch with NE Aquarium scientists
    • Visit the Deer Island Water Treatment Plant
    • Analyze water from a nearby stream.

    We will also learn about Israel’s technological contribution to water purification/desalinization and issues that make access to clean water difficult for many in the world.

    - When the well's dry, we know the worth of water--Ben Franklin

    Location: Boston metro area

  • Farm to Table

    Farm-To-Table, Seed-to-Fork, Udder-to-Butter, Stalk-To-Sourdough.

    This is where your journey to becoming a Farm to Table master begins. Learn to grow your own food, build your own farm infrastructure, and turn the veggies you grew into mouthwatering culinary delights.

    Sink your hands deep into the soil of the Gann Farm, giving the farm a strong spring start. Seeding, digging, watering, weeding, harvesting, shoveling, and so much more.

    Put on your apron and step into the Kitchen for some chopping, sautéing, plating, and of course tasting.

    Step into the shop/Fabrication Lab to saw, hammer, and screw, building a new piece of infrastructure for the farm.
    In addition to field-work, cooking, and building projects, we will venture off campus to experience the amazing Farm-to-Table world of Greater-Boston:
    • EAT lunch and go for a behind-the-scenes tour of Clover, a local Kosher Farm-to-Table fast-casual restaurant business (with a stop for a self-guided tour and tasting at Taza Fair-trade Chocolate Factory).
    • TASTE the life of a real vegetable production farm at Waltham Fields Community Farm.
    • EXPLORE historic and thriving local Wilson's Farm + Supermarket.
    • LEARN about food insecurity and GIVE of our time and energy at Family Table.
    You can expect to walk away from the trip with an appreciation for the beauty and miracle of food production, from Seed-to-Fork.

    Location: Boston metro area
  • Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

    Our mission will spend four life-changing days with communities in Puerto Rico assisting in their rebuilding efforts. We’ll spend half the day working in a variety of ways. We could be helping farmers rebuild their banana farms, repair houses with water damage, or spend time with local youth and bring them gifts from the States. We’ll also have learning discussions throughout the trip about the origin and meaning of kindness in Judaism. Community service hours will be available and will be determined at a later date.

    Teens who participate in our service mission to Puerto Rico will develop a tremendous sense of empathy for those struggling from poverty and hurricane damage, a deep sense of fulfillment from assisting the communities in their rebuilding efforts, and a refreshed connection to Judaism through Chesed- acts of kindness.

    Location: Puerto Rico

  • Return to Zion

    Zion National Park is a spectacular region of rugged mountains, beautiful valleys, and wild rivers in Utah's desert southwest.

    It also has very dark skies that we will experience while tent camping. Students will learn their way around the spring constellations, doing some observing through a telescope and binoculars of planets, star clusters, and galaxies. Daytime activities will consist primarily of hiking through a variety of terrains and ecosystems, and depending on conditions, we may also go on a trail on horseback or do some kayaking or rafting outside the park. The area is ideal for learning about geology and the forces that have shaped the planet. Students will have a chance to do some informal science learning. And we plan to spend a Shabbat in Las Vegas, Nevada. No experience is required, just a willingness to share experiences, from the sublime (seeing by starlight) to the mundane (living in the elements).

    This trip is for 11th graders only.

    Location: Zion National Park

  • Swinging on the I-4 Corridor

    Do you remember what it was like to swing on the playground? Moving back and forth, wind whooshing, the feeling of power in your legs after you learned to pump, providing your own power for the ride. How did that word become the verb to describe voters in the middle who sometimes vote for Republican candidates, sometimes Democratic. What does it mean to be a swing voter in 2019/2020 in the midst of a polarized red/blue America?

    We will travel to Orlando, Florida and explore towns and cities along Rt. I-4 (including a day at a Disneyworld park!) to talk to swing voters in what has been described as “the swing corridor in the swingiest state.” (Miami Herald) The focus of the trip is to explore and understand what folks in central Florida are thinking about. What are their greatest concerns? How do they perceive what is going on in the US and the world? We will explore our own diverse set of ideas and work on skills to listen empathetically and with an open mind to understand the other. This is not a political trip but rather a trip about connection and seeing.

    We will cook and eat together, make Shabbat and travel throughout the I-4 corridor with open hearts and open minds to get a wider perspective of the state of the nation.

    To participate, you must agree to not bring a cell phone or any electronic device and to be interested in learning about perspectives that are different from your own.

    Location: Orlando, Fl

  • Civil Rights Journey

    Students will visit various Civil Rights locations throughout the deep south, learn about the events that took place at those locations, engage with the complexities of those stories, engage with this seminal moment of our country’s history, ask themselves questions about their own universe of obligation, and more generally consider what it means to be an American.
    Before heading south students will first learn about the history of race and racism in Boston. How did Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan become so racially segregated?  What has the impact of that segregation been on people who live in those areas?  Students will begin learning and exploring around Boston in January (we will have several lunch meetings and one or two field trips) and will travel to the South in May.

    This trip is for 11th graders only.

     Atlanta, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham
  • Off the Grid in Maine

    Are you ever frustrated by the amount of time you spend on your phone? Do you wonder what you might do if you weren’t filming TikToks, sending Snapchats, or scrolling through Instagram? On this trip, we will unplug from our electronic devices and redirect our attention to who and what surrounds us in real life.

    Without external distractions, we will focus on building community, appreciating nature, and spending time alone with our thoughts. We will travel to Maine’s picturesque Schoodic Peninsula, where we will have an entire inn to ourselves as home base. During the week, we will hike in Acadia National Park, enjoy solo time on the inn’s beautiful property, and cook, play games, and reflect together on our experiences “off the grid.” Our week will conclude with a restful Shabbat, enjoying a final day in our beautiful setting.
    All participants must agree to leave all electronic devices at home. We will select our hikes for the week based on group members’ hiking levels and interest; all are welcome and no prior experience is necessary!

    Location: Maine
  • Trekking the White Mountains

    We will spend five days hiking some of the most beautiful, rugged, and challenging trails in the White Mountains region. Our base camp for the first three nights will be a cabin in Bethlehem, NH, near the Ammonoosuc River. Then, on Thursday, we’ll hike the Franconia Ridge and spend the night in a rustic AMC Hut located at the treeline a mile from the summit of Mt. Lafayette, the sixth tallest peak in New Hampshire.
    This trip will be largely student-led. Students will design the itineraries for our Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday hikes, and will plan the menus for, and prepare, our meals. Each hike will have two student leaders who will create a schedule for the day, keep the group together, and inform us about the terrain, trail junctions, and mileage for each leg.
    Possible hikes for Monday-Wednesday include: Jackson and Webster; Mahoosuc Notch and Old Speck (on the Maine-NH border; this hike includes a segment in a narrow gorge filled with boulders that many consider the hardest mile of the Appalachian Trail—even though it’s flat); Nancy and Norcross Ponds (with a beautiful cascades, and a rarely seen view of the Pemigewassett Wilderness); Crawford and Stairs; Moosilauke; Willey, Tom, and Field; the Tripyramids; and Carrigain.
    Experienced hikers are welcome, as are newcomers to hiking who have a positive attitude, love nature, and are up for a serious physical challenge (our longest hikes will probably be about 12-15 miles long with occasionally steep ascents and descents; everyone will need to have microspikes). Participants must be willing to spend five days in the outdoors (no matter the weather), to put the needs of the group ahead of their own, to wake up early, to live off the grid and screen-free for the duration of the trip, to make new friends, and to contribute whole-heartedly to meal preparation, cleanup, and evening discussions.

    Location: White Mountains, NH
  • 333 Forest Street
  • Waltham, MA 02452
  • P: 781.642.6800
  • F: 781.642.6805