Over 65 years ago, we established SPNI out of a love of nature. Since then, we lead thousands of children, families and adults daily along our country’s trails, aiming to expose them to the magic of nature.
We believe that real change comes from the strong connection and feeling of responsibility. Nature does not belong to anyone, we are part of nature. Living far from nature has made it foreign and disconnected to us. We believe that familiarity with nature and direct contact with it will make us a more moral society, one that protects nature and the environment.
We have focused on hiking for many years; with time we have studied, gained experience, become more professional and guided the development of hiking in Israel. The field of educational hiking is constantly changing and developing. We invest great effort in developing our content and instruction, tailoring our guiding programs, conducting continuing education courses for our guides and more. For many years we have led the field of hiking in Israel and are the leading source of content in this field.
Educational Treks and Annual School Trips
More and more secondary schools are joining us for a different kind of yearly school trip, (such trips being a mainstay in Israeli schools). Within the framework of our activities, through our daughter company, ‘Revealing the Land,’ we lead hundreds of thousands of school children and teachers on educational treks that add value and meaning to the annual school trip, for both the children and the teaching staff.
The educational trek is designed to incorporate educational values, arouse awareness, knowledge and involvement in the fields of nature, society, and knowledge of the land, and serve as a starting point for a continuing ethical, educational process at school. During this process, we create a partnership with the school’s teaching staff and children when planning and executing the activity.
The educational power of our educational treks is significant and has proven itself in different and diverse sectors of the population. This year we ran our educational treks as part of our activities to strengthen teenagers. Many of the program participants experienced, for the first time, an excursion to nature, preparation for an extended period of time outside of home, a social experience outside of school, wonder at the landscapes and new topics, dialog and a new kind of in-depth learning.
Elementary schools also chose to spend their annual school trips with SPNI and ‘Revealing the Land’. Our annual school trip programs are tailored to the core curriculum of the Ministry of Education. We specialize in building an optimal experience for the participants; an experience in which the children do not just observe and listen but become active partners. We promote a world of advanced instruction in which the guide not only presents the information to the children but also uses advanced guiding tools. When planning the educational process we place emphasis on creating involvement, a strong learning experience and personal connection for the participant. As a nature conservation organization, we place emphasis on awareness of issues related to nature conservation and environment in Israel, in the belief that a strong, personal experience during the trip leads to active citizenship and environmental activism.
In the early 1960s we dreamed a dream: to establish a ‘field school’ – a center of learning, nature investigation and guidance. In 1963 we established the Ein Gedi Field School, the first in Israel, and currently we have 12 field schools spread around the country from Dan to Eilat.
Our field schools are located in different regions near unique nature. SPNI’s guides in the field schools, both young and adult, are connected to the land and its happenings and accompany hikers among the nature trails and landscapes of the region. Nine of our field schools also offer accommodation. In the last year 250,000 visitors chose to sleep in our field schools, including school children, summer camp participants, tourists, organized groups and individual families who chose to spend their family holiday as close to nature as possible with professional guidance from our team of guides.
We believe that real change and motivation for activism to protect nature can be achieved only through an extended educational process that arouses a sense of wonder and love. We run our environmental education programs in many schools and preschools throughout the country.
In 2018, some 35,000 children from different areas and backgrounds participated in our environmental education activities. In our program, children learn about biodiversity, personal conduct in the field, the conservation vs. development dilemma, sustainability and more. The programs take place as part of both formal and informal educational frameworks, in the large cities – in the SPNI communities – and in the country’s periphery.
Once again, this year we enjoyed fruitful collaboration with local authorities, the Ministry for Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Education and school staff.
For dozens of year we have been training guides to develop and intimate connection with the land, love and know Israel’s nature, lead Ministry of Education hikes, and correctly use nature and the land as a very meaningful educational tool when working with children, teenagers and adults. In 2018 we also ran a rich and interesting training program for tour guides. Our program of courses, continuing education programs and workshops is based on a unique combination of decades of knowledge and experience with continuing familiarity with the land.
We meet more and more elementary school children who have chosen to expand their knowledge on nature and biology. These children come to our field schools as part of their “science voyages” that aim towards in-depth scientific investigation at the peak of a learning process within the framework of this study track.
Our science voyages are run by nature professionals and experts in the field. The voyages emphasize the personal research and learning process in a supportive scientific environment in nature. The children enjoy a ‘lab outside the lab’ experience. Many participants report that the science voyage was the highlight of their learning process.
Summer Camps and Day Camps
During the summer and other vacation periods we run day camps for younger children and summer camps for teenagers. Our field schools open their gates to thousands of children and teenagers who come to experience, learn and enjoy, and connect to nature. In the day camps, the children achieve close acquaintance with animals, investigate their environment and spend time with new friends. The day camps are led by our professional guiding staff, the guiding staff of the field schools. Many children choose to return to our day camps year after year. This year too, our day camps and summer camps hosted tens of thousands of children and teenagers.
Eretz Ahavati – Adult Hikes
Hiking with SPNI is a lifelong experience. Within the framework of ‘Eretz Ahavati’ (My Beloved Country) we run series of high-quality hikes for adults with the best guides. This year about 42,000 hikers participated in Eretz Ahavati programs.
As part of our leisure hikes we run a series of high-quality hikes. Each weekend, hundreds of Israelis go out into nature, led by excellent guides.
This year we were delighted that an increased number of companies and organizations chose to join us on a team-building experience along Israel’s trails. During these activities, the employees enjoy valuable time fostering their connection to nature, themselves, and the staff they work with. More and more companies are choosing to join us on recreational activities and thus support nature conservation in Israel.
Next year, too, we will continue working to offer education that fosters a love of hiking, the land, and stewardship of nature and the environment in Israel. We invite you to continue hiking with us, join our activities, tell your relatives and invite them along.