Israel's Walk-About Tradition
Orienteering, SPNI's youth movement, strengthens the connection of Israel's youth to the land, their heritage and to their communities by giving children the opportunity to explore Israel's wilderness.
In Hebrew, we call this education "derech haraglayim - דרך הרגליים"
which translates into "the foot path." Practically, it means that there is no better way to learn than through first-hand experience. From the Galilee to the Negev Desert, Orienteering groups for children ages 7-18 meet weekly for outdoor activities in their area and embark on numerous hiking trips around the country.
With an eye to developing young leadership, the teen counselors (or 'madrichim-מדריכים') undergo rigorous training that includes leadership and survival skills, lessons in biology, geology, the environment, Israeli history and more. The madrichim lead activities for younger children, including, adopting archaeological and urban nature sites, guided nature tours, ecological events, recycling activities and other projects.
Orienteering activities are designed to strengthen the child's sense of belonging and empowerment by overcoming physical and emotional challenges.
Hundreds of children and youth of all backgrounds, religious and secular, new immigrants, native Israelis, and youth from all economic statuses, are active in SPNI Orienteering programs. While participation is often paid for by parents, SPNI provides scholarships for those in need. The orienteering program for at-risk immigrant youth is completely reliant on private contributions and receives some support from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.