Dear Derech Hateva,
It is hard to put into words how much Nadav and Yael got out of their experience with Derech Hateva this past summer. For both of them, both having just turned 15, it was a deep, life-changing experience, that will have a profound impact on them for many, many years to come.
For Nadav, who is a very out-doorsy, sporty personality, the group experience was probably the most significant part. Working as a team, depending on one another, sharing responsibilities, were very important lessons. Particularly as Nadav is quite small for his age, and has juvenile diabetes, he learned when to ask for help, and when he could offer help to others. He learned to deal with his own fear of heights, and to appreciate that every person has strengths and weaknesses and to appreciate a person for who he is, not to judge him based on one quality or another. One of the great outcomes of the summer is that Nadav is scheduled in tenth grade to begin studying a major track toward matriculation (megama l'bagrut) and he has chosen to focus on the Land of Israel in the "Eretz Yisrael Megama." His own explanation is that for him this will be as close to a continuation of Derech Hateva as he can get during the school year.
Yael had a somewhat different, and perhaps even deeper summer experience. Not being naturally oriented towards sports or the outdoors, the whole Derech Hateva experience was much more of a challenge for her. Yael came to love the outdoors. She particularly adored having Shabbat in the wilderness. Yael says that for her it has completely changed her concept of Shabbat, of time, of rest, of making time special and meaningful. Yael also was very much affected by the Leave No Trace approach to the outdoors. She is trying (and much to her disappointment, not very successfully) to introduce it to her friends at Bnei Akiva and on school trips. Yael would very much like to have a trip for returnees this summer. She says she misses the outdoors, the time together, the learning to be in nature and appreciate your surroundings ("live for the moment") and the sense that you are a team, experiencing together, working together, sharing experiences and helping one another.
As a parent, one rarely feels that the educational experiences one's children get are so uniformly positive and meaningful. Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful program to Israel.