By Amitai Haberman-Browns ITTA '07
We decided on a spot in the forest Friday afternoon after wandering around for several hours looking to set up camp for Shabbat. Everyone is tired after a long week, waking up early every morning and covering many kilometers with heavy backpacks on, and of course we're hungry. We put down our bags and the counselors immediately call Moshe, the retired IDF emergency ambulance driver, in charge of meeting us with his pickup to deliver our additional food, water and Shabbat gear. When Moshe arrives we all quickly eat some snacks that he gives us and get to work setting up the tents, putting up the eruv, preparing food for Shabbat, and tying up a guiding string to the "bathroom" holes so that one can find the "bathroom" in the night. We make pasta, rice, pita, and brownie from a mix, and also tehina. After the first Shabbat we realized that in the heat, even just overnight the food that we prepared in advance can begin to go off, so we tried to make more simple things that keep better, without very many sauces.
As Shabbat draws nearer we begin to clean up, get dressed in nicer Shabbat clothes, or at least something clean. When its time we light Shabbat candles and since I was in the Multi-Denominational group some of us sing kabbalat Shabbat and davven and most wanted to join in. After we're done we make kiddush, hamotsi on fresh handmade pitas and enjoy the meal we cooked together. Afterwards some go off to sleep, some stay to sing or tell and listen to stories. In the morning we spend a leisurely day playing games, eating and other relaxed activities.
Early on Sunday morning while it was still dark, we break camp and head to the nearby army base to hear an explanation on the battles that took place at the monument nearby.
This same morning most of us would participate in activities that we'd remember and joke about even after the experience. What we did would normally be embarrassing or strange to us, but already being immersed in the wild free life of the outdoors we didn't even think twice. We hurried over to the faucets and washed ourselves, our clothes and eating equipment. This was an extraordinary chance to clean and refresh ourselves in the cool water.
I recommend signing up for the Derech Hateva experience. Not because you want to be removed from ordinary civilized society, but in order to build your physical strength, your strength of mind, and your character, and to meet new people your age and bond with them. You will learn and exercise countless skills not only applicable to the outdoors, but also to everyday life in the 'real world' such as leadership, confidence, navigation, and communication.