HOW DOES IT WORK?
Guidance – Community – Nature
For guidance we believe that the educational and therapeutic components complete each other. Role modeling by staff and others, learning skills, and responding to expectations are always opportunities for growth. In addition, individual and group sessions allow for self-reflection, processing, and support on deeper levels and needs.
Living as a community is a powerful element in our program. Developing a sense of community happens though experiences such as field expeditions, workshops, and day to day living together. Learning in all levels is first and foremost experiential and immediately relevant, thus meaningful and long lasting.
The challenging wilderness is a powerful accelerator for growth. The connection to nature and then to ourselves and others is a key element. Coping in the challenging outdoors legitimizes emotional difficulties and pain, which leads to self-regulation based on familiarity rather than fear. This competency, together with self-reflection is what creates ownership on steering our own lives upon return back home to our families and social arenas.
Our Home Base
Our home-base living arrangements are located within a beautiful Kibbutz community in the north-central part of Israel. Our program compound consists of 6 bedrooms in two buildings with 2 or 3 participants per room. Rooming will separate boys from girls and depend on needs and appropriate matching.
Our Daily Program
“Free Spirit” is an 8 to 10 week program in Israel, packed with meaningful experiential learning, delivered in English. There are three major elements to the daily program:
Routine daily living at the base location – these include “Ulpan” studies in Hebrew; General studies relating to life in Israel, diversity and Jewish life, as well as other relevant subjects; Extracurricular activities; Agricultural field work; and individual and group session and activities.
Special days – Short field trips to the major historical and cultural sites in Israel, combined with meaningful visits with significant persons of interest and inspiration in the diverse Israeli culture.
Expeditions – Five-day-long expeditions, each geared toward different aspects of coping, experiential learning, and group process in the tradition of wilderness and adventure therapy.
Typical days Routine:
7:00am – Reveille – Wake up, get ready
7:30am – Good morning – Group meeting (check in, daily plans and goals)
8:15am – Breakfast , cleanup
9:00am – 1st Period*
11:00am – 2nd Period*
1:00pm – Lunch
1:45pm – Personal time/rest and one-on-one sessions
3:00pm – Afternoon period
5:45pm – Pre-dinner group meeting
6:00pm – Dinner
6:45pm – Winding down, one-on-one sessions
8:15pm – Evening period – Social/cultural activities at the club
9:45pm – End-of-day meeting (check-in, conclusions and resolutions)
10:45pm – Winding down and bed time
*Period content varies and may include Hebrew or other classes, volunteer work at the Kibbutz, skills and other extracurricular activities, etc.
Special Days schedule:
Wake up, preparations, departure, and return varies according to the site visited.
Expedition day schedule:
6:00am – Wake up
6:30am – Good morning meeting (group play and day overview, personal goals)
7:15am – Breakfast (self made), organize for departure
Day schedule will depend on group decisions:
Skills acquisition based on need
Hiking and navigation, challenges, and processing
Hiking and navigation, challenges and processing
Night base arrival – Shelter and food preperations
End of day meeting
* Personal and group sessions are conducted based on need and opportunity
Stages of Growth
Arava (Willow)- overcoming Jet-leg. Getting settled into the program and understanding “where am I”. Working on personal identity, while the group is getting to know each individual participant. Examining how do I introduce myself to a new and unfamiliar environment. Asking myself “why did I get to the program?” and start answering this question. Learning about my identity circles and my belongings circles.
Hadas (Myrtus)- exploring the relationships in my life: What is my contribution to the group – what part do I take in it? Answering those questions, exploring and understanding what I had brought to my surroundings back home. What is my responsibility for my actions so far? Creating strong relationships in the group and building a strong sense of belonging to the program. Understanding that every breakdown also brings a great opportunity for growth. We will learn how to give and receive feedback.
Lulav (similar to palm)- Leadership and Responsibility. Exploring my abilities within the group. What are my strengths? Experiencing taking responsibility and leading personal and group development. Time management.
Etrog (Citron)- Almost saying goodbye and looking forward- collecting all the skills I have and acquired during the program. Which will I like to use in the future? Looking back on what I brought from home, what did I gain from the program and accordingly, what do I want to take home with me and what do I leave behind? How do I present myself and my strengths to my family and to the environment I am going back to?
Post program follow up- Long distance support as well as partnering with supportive professionals in the community: Continue to work on personal plan with Free Spirit staff. Sharing and asking for help when needed.
“Restart” – A fresh opportunity at a difficult stage in life
Be your own leader: Personal growth through connection to our own strengths, to nature, and to others.
Feel that you belong – you are one of us and you help others feel that they belong as well.
Feel competent and successful: Acquire new skills to empower yourself – Self regulation, social interactions with peers and adults, daily living, and community life close to nature
Know thy self, love yourself: A renewed and honest sense of self, your strengths and your weaknesses
Develop and strengthen your own identity: Reconnecting with yourself and your cultural identity
Taking charge of your choices and surrounding reality in the present. Creating a positive plan for the future
Creating a positive and supportive group culture: Allowing for personal differences and individual processes
Reconnecting back to life at home – Reconnect with your family and community, expand your sense of belonging in a growth-enabling manner
The Israeli component serves as a powerful connection to the land and to one’s identity. Helping others as well as knowing and strengthening one’s character are a few of the traditional values we emphasize. It is a unique opportunity to “jump start” and restart at a challenging point in life, in a new and exciting environment with an inherent sense of connection and belonging. The program is located in Israel and accepts up to 18 participants per session. The small groups create a family-feel and allow for great individual focus and personal attention. Each session consists of filled, challenging, and meaningful 10 weeks, including an educational and occupational curriculum, wilderness-survival expeditions, ODT, personal, and group sessions, and, of course, exceptional immersion in the diverse and rich landscape and culture of Israel.
We will hear inspiring stories of meaning and strength, work the land, learn Hebrew, and experience meaningful connections in many ways. Our staff throughout the program is professional, caring, and experienced, from our guides and counselors to our therapists and educators. The therapeutic component is lead by Dr. Tamir Rotman.