Green Horizons’ Desert Wilderness Survival Program .
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Every year thousands of students from all over Israel participate in outdoor leadership development programs. The program is operated by Green Horizons (Sayarut) Outdoor Leadership School in collaboration with KKL-JNF Education Division, as part of the effort to advance informal education. The participants go off the grid for a week, connecting with nature and learning how to deal with the challenges it presents.
“Our goal is to take these kids out of their comfort zone and challenge them to confront situations of uncertainty”, explained Eran Zohar, director of the Outdoor Leadership School. “We use field activities to educate the young generation to love Israel, to connect them to nature and the environment and encourage them to lead an independent life”.
Green Horizons, or Hugey Sayarut in Hebrew, was founded after the ’73 war, as a framework that encourages teenagers to get to know and love their country. It is supported by KKL-JNF, JNF USA and the Israeli Ministry of Education. Practicing outdoor survival skills, being part of a group and hiking all serve as model for life itself.
About four years ago Green Horizons’ Outdoor Leadership School was founded; its purpose is developing leadership through outdoor programs which provide personal and group empowerment.
Hagit Ohana, KKL-JNF’s national coordinator with the pre-military academies, called this the KKL-JNF Education Division’s flagship project, where thousands of pre-military academy students go on a five-day outdoor survival skills educational program.
The students from the Otzem religious pre-military academy in Naveh went backpacking in the Judean Desert for a week. They learned how to navigate, light a campfire, prepare food, build a one-night survival shelter, find water sources, and use desert plants. They walked dozens of miles, with all their equipment on their backs. Along the way, they stopped stop for some social activities and personal conversations.
“It’s not easy being out in the desert for so long, but we learned a lot of new things about ourselves and our friends”, says Nehemia Mendelovitch, from Bat Ayin, a student in the Otzem pre-military academy. “We’ve discovered we can do things we never thought we could, and learned that sometimes you need to sacrifice for the benefit of others, take one for the team.”
Read more about the Wilderness Survival Program and watch video