This past spring, the Dekalim School in Be’er Sheva for teenagers with intellectual disorders went on a hike with LOTEM — a JNF partner organization that makes nature accessible to children and adults in Israel with special needs. This outing was the students’ first overnight trip, and despite the fears of students and teachers alike, it was an incredible success. Below is an excerpt that I translated from an article that Shir and Shira, two students from Dekalim, wrote about their experiences hiking with LOTEM.
We want to say that this trip was an unforgettable experience. We want to tell everything that we experienced, so here goes. First of all, we really liked the first day when we traveled to Habonim Beach, and we really enjoyed the activities and we liked traveling to Acre. We went boating and we danced and it was fun – a lot of fun. After that we traveled to Rosh Hanikra and we traveled on the trolley and we saw beautiful and special sites.
Towards the end of the day we traveled to Pekiin, to a hostel. When we arrived we put our bags in the rooms and then we went to eat dinner. It was a tasty dinner, but nothing is like Mom’s food. After that, we went to our rooms and showered and we did disco dancing and then we went to sleep.
A new day arrived — the last day of the trip. We ate breakfast and afterwards we went on a hike to the cave where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai hid. After that, we traveled to Carmiel to the Straus Factory and it was a lot of fun to learn new things. We played a trivia game about the factory. We were able to taste the products and it was tasty.
After this, we returned to Be’er Sheva and returned to our homes. We want to thank the guides for the information they taught us. They danced and enjoyed with us.
We again want to say thanks. You accepted the other. You supported and loved and were kind. With all our love, thank you.
LOTEM is in the midst of a Summer CAMPaign to enable 5,000 children with special needs from all over Israel to leave their indoor environments and connect to nature over the summer months. For further details about this project go to: www.jnf.org/lotem.