Jan 11, 2015  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Environment,

Building self-confidence on Israel's nature trails, one step at a time

Ben Freedman. who's in the eleventh grade, is now a Green Horizons guide leading younger children on 
Israeli nature excursions. 

I'm a father to two teenage boys who are very active in
Green Horizons, which teaches kids about Israel's history, geography, and culture through outdoor field trips -- Ron, who's in the the eighth grade, and Ben, who's in the eleventh grade. My wife Inbar and I have seen some remarkable changes in our boys, particularly Ben, and we attribute them to Green Horizons.

Ben participated in the training for young guides during the summer, a crazy time here in the western Negev due to the last Gaza war. It was truly amazing to see the Green Horizons team work together and not give up on the young guides training course, despite the fact that the organization's senior staff members were recruited for reserve duty in Gaza. Through these very challenging days, the course was successfully completed and kids and parents alike were very excited.

Ben came back from the course and took responsibility for 12 seventh grade kids from our kibbutz, Beit Kama (about a 25-minute drive north of Be'er Sheva), and the surrounding communities. Ben leads his students in weekly three-hour activities, plus monthly weekend tours and a three- or four-day tours during the holidays. He is working very hard, and my wife and I are experiencing the empowerment and competence that he is getting from it. It is truly amazing.

Ron Freedman, Green Horizons
Ron Freedman has become active in Green Horizons.  
We see his great commitment to success in school and taking responsibility for home tasks. Ben is learning so much, especially skills such as time management, task management, teamwork, how to work under pressure, preparing work plans, and understanding  the organization and its goals. These are very serious challenges for a 16-year-old.   

For our younger son, Ron, sleeping outside, learning about new areas, walking and preparing meals with others are very empowering experiences. He comes back home from Green Horizons tours so happy.  

Years ago, I was a student and a guide in a different youth movement in Israel, which gives me a good perspective of Green Horizons and its work. It's a unique organization that gives students a set of values and skills through outdoor activities.

Green Horizons is expanding to more and more communities, from Sderot to the moshavim and kibbutzim all around the Gaza strip and Be'er Sheva and the Arava communities. It is very exciting, and I’m proud to be part of the Green Horizons family.

Itai Freedman is former development director of Be'er River Park, another JNF partner.

Students on a Green Horizons excursion
Ben Freedman and some of the students he guides on Green Horizons outings. 
Ben Freedman and his father, Itai, who also participated in Israeli young groups as a child.