Challenge Hike Puts New Skills to the Test

Yemin Orde Youth Village’s annual Challenge (Etgar) Hike for 12th graders proved to be the ultimate challenge in putting new team-building and leadership skills to the test. High school seniors use outdoor survival skills learned throughout the years to trek 100 kilometers from Mt. Arbel, near Lake Tiberius, to Mount Meron, through the lower Galilee and, finally, back to Yemin Orde.

The Etgar hike is one of the most popular and anticipated experiences at the Village.

Younger students and those new to the Village, especially enjoy seeing their older peers return from the four-day intensive adventure experience. The spirit, strength and confidence of the seniors provides their younger and more vulnerable counterparts with the hope that they, too, will one day be confident and strong.

As always, a group of staff members accompany the teens to facilitate group discussions, team-building activities, provide understanding of the historical and environmental context and help prepare meals along the way.

On the final leg of the trip, as Yemin Orde comes into view, there is great joy and excitement from both the hikers and the Village community, who gather to welcome them home.  The return of the hikers to Yemin Orde is followed by an emotional ceremony in the gymnasium.

Youth rise to the challenge on 100 kilometer hike

“At the beginning of the hike, we watched you (the kids) stand on the cliff of Arbel and give yourselves goals as both a group and individually so that you could have a truly meaningful experience. Oh how you completely accomplished these goals!,” said one staff member who joined the trip. “We saw you offering to help anybody who needed it. The leadership, maturity and taking initiative that we know you all have, we saw with full force during this hike. In tough moments of crisis, you didn’t forget anyone and didn’t let your spirits fall. This is how we want you to continue, as leaders in the Village. What an honor it is to be your educators.”

The name “Shiloh” is revealed by the hikers.

As tradition, the seniors chose a name to represent the incoming class of ninth graders. This year, the name dedicated to the freshman class is Shiloh,  a young soldier who served in a Golani Brigade reconnaissance unit and who recently passed away. As an honor, his unit commander and part of the soldier’s unit attended the Etgar’s closing ceremony to give wishes of success to all.

Part of understanding about Shiloh was learning that his family took their tragedy and turned it into something that reflected hope and life by donating their son’s organs to save five other lives. Through this act of kindness, our children learned what it meant to give to others and were able to connect to the concepts of Tikkun Olam (healing the world through social justice) and Tikkun Halev (healing the heart).

Based on the hike’s success with boosting confidence and teamwork among the teens, Yemin Orde’s Village Way Educational Initiatives partner communities have also incorporated similar Etgar hikes into their programming.

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