Oh man. So I always tell people that there are pros and cons of the Shabbatons that we go on to other schools. The cons are that it's harder to find people and harder to stay in touch and build relationships, which are some of the essential components of "Heart to Heart". The pros are the unique and memorable experiences, and the opportunity to meet and share Judaism with people from totally different places. To counter some of the cons, there are technology and other useful tools - like facebook, which could be used for both a) finding people and b) staying in touch and building a relationship. When we were planning out trip to Kentucky 18 months ago, we ran into some of these same issues and solutions, with some great help from the One above. In particular, the story of how I found one girl from Transylvania University was really amazing - and the whole thing ended up working out really well. (It was also one of the clearest instances of the Hand of God that I've seen.) I don't know if I ever shared this, but ever since that Shabbat we've become friends and stayed in touch, occasionally facebook chatting - about life, hockey, Ketucky and of course, about Judaism. (As an avid fan of Prince of Egypt, she LOVED our video!) She's probably the most religious and Jewishly knowledgeable student in Kentucky and I was encouraging her to get involved, perhaps run some Shabbat dinners for the other students, especially the many who had expressed interest when we came. She said she was honored and really appreciated it and would think about it, but that its really hard.
Fast forward to two days ago, when Kener invited me to dinner at Eli's; he also said he was bringing a friend. Turns out this friend was a Jewish kid from Penn who lived in Maryland and Kener had randomly met up with that afternoon and brought along for dinner. Great guy, we had a great time at dinner - and so when I got home that night, I went to friend him on facebook. That's when I saw that one of our mutual friends was that girl from Transylvania/Kentucky!!! Turns out they were from the same city in Maryland and went to the same high school (and Sunday school). So I sent her a message, asking her how camp was (which I saw she was in by stalking her fb wall) and telling her that I met a former classmate of hers in DC. She wrote back a while later that camp was in fact good, but that for the weekend, she was coming to DC!! It was for unfortunate circumstances (her brother is having surgery), but she wanted to know if I wanted to meet up over the weekend! Of course I said yes, and after an exchange of text messages, we're set to meet up this weekend. Maybe I'll even invite her to the Georgetown Chabad, where I plan on going tonight for Shabbat dinner.
The point is that you never know the effects of your actions, and the relationships you build are some of the most important assets that you have. Even "shot-in-the-dark" Shabbatons can make profound impacts and build lasting connections, assuming you have the right intentions and you get some help from Above.
I'll let you know how it goes this weekend :) Shabbat shalom y'all!
p.s. Check out my dvar torah on this week's haftorah (it's from last year, but probably just as relevant)