Special Needs Children Soar among the Treetops

With Etgarim at KKL-JNF’s Field and Forest Center in Tzipori, youth with special needs can zip-line, climb walls and even navigate a 25-meter ropes course, just like any other brave kid.

Tree-top ropes course at Etgarim Summer Camp at KKL-JNF's Tzipori Field and Forest Center. (photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
Tree-top ropes course at Etgarim Summer Camp at KKL-JNF's Tzipori Field and Forest Center.
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
Last week, thousands of children with special needs participated in summer camps organized by the Etgarim organization, at KKL-JNF’s Field and Forest Center in Tzipori. There, they enjoyed fun outdoor challenges and activities like any other kid. Sponsorship by Bank Leumi and JNF-KKL Germany made the camp possible.
Zip-lines, hanging bridges, ropes courses between the trees, wall-climbing, field trips, arts and crafts with natural materials…here, children with special needs could fully participate in all these wonderful activities.
The Etgarim summer camp took place from 7-11 July 2019 at KKL-JNF’s Field and Forest Center in Tzipori. The camp, attended by approximately 3,500 campers, was held in collaboration with KKL-JNF’s Education and Community Division, and was made possible thanks to the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends in Germany.
“Our mission is to enable children with special needs to experience the same things as any other kid does”, said Avner Balkany, the CEO of Etgarim. “Nature is an open space for adventures as well as individual and group activities, and the children gain life lessons when they succeed in doing something they didn’t think possible”.
Etgarim has strived and worked hard to erect the facilities for all those challenging activities that take place at an altitude. The highest climbing installation set up this year in the camp reached a height of 25 meters. Navigating from branch to branch while secured by a safety rope brought the campers among the treetops. The relatively ‘low’ facility was…10 meters high. Climbing either one was a true challenge and required courage.
Over the week, the young campers also participated in various activities at stations set up by the KKL-JNF Education and Community Division. Counselors guided students through various activities such as water play using different containers, balancing activities, shooting hoops and creating mosaics.
Moshe Kahalani, a KKL-JNF counselor/trainer, explained: “We have a special connection with these guys and there is an enormous sense of satisfaction. Everyone can discover their strengths here, and thanks to the teamwork, the entire group succeeds together”.
The Tzipori Field and Forest Center includes sports and recreation facilities, sitting areas, tents, and outdoor classrooms, all of which enable experiential learning alongside field activities. A team of professional trainers guides participants in educational activities and tours around the area.
Read more, see photos of these special adventurers at Etgarim Summer Camp