August 2022 Newsletter


Over the past 40 days, students embarked on a journey of self-discovery, hope, and healing in the Colorado wilderness. Students explored questions of meaning, values, and purpose, built skills, practiced healthy emotional expression, climbed mountains, and built a supportive and inclusive community.

There is so much to share about our summer season! Recognizing that it would be impossible to capture all that transpired over the last 40 days, we will share highlights from each of the four program phases that guide our program model.

Image: Students walk along a trail with their backpacks on
Setting Intentions

During the first phase of BaMidbar’s program, students explored their intentions and asked themselves, what do I want to get from this experience? What do I hope to leave behind as I step into this space? Students learned skills to stay safe and meet their basic needs in a backcountry environment, celebrated their first Shabbat together as a community, and embarked on their first masa – backcountry excursion. On masa, students shared their “personal narrative,” and explored the question, “What’s my Mitzrayim? What’s my personal Egypt or narrow place that brings me to this journey in the wilderness?” Students engaged in equine therapy, exploring the topics of self-awareness, empathy, compassion, and confidence.

Image: Students and staff pet horses during equine therapy
Seeing Obstacles as Opportunities for Growth

In Hebrew, Yirah is translated as both “fear” and “awe.” During the second phase of the BaMidbar journey, students explored their fears, and asked the question, “How do I transform my understanding of obstacles into opportunities for growth?” They identified and learned about their “inner critic” and practiced solutions-focused and positive psychology skills. In a backcountry and experiential setting, students developed a deeper awareness of both body and mind. They learned to recognize shifts in their emotions and engage in proactive coping strategies. Students sang underneath the stars and found joy in baking challah together over the fire for Shabbat.

Image: Students point at a rainbow after a summer storm 

Building Healthy Relationships with Self and Others

During the third phase of the program, students explored questions of healthy relationships with both self and others. They backpacked to high alpine lakes, had a moose sighting, played in the snow still present at high elevations, and deepened their backcountry living skills. Students learned nonviolent communication skills, discussed their communication styles, and explored what it means to build a strong community through direct feedback and respectful dialogue. Students reflected upon a relationship they wished to heal and learned about the concepts of “Teshuvah,” or interpersonal repair.

Image: Students look at middot cards before a hike. The middot card “Ometz Lev – Courage” is in the foreground.
Returning to Community

As the BaMidbar experience came to a close, students explored questions of community, both within BaMidbar and as they look forward to the future. They embarked on a 36 hour “solo,” a deeply meaningful opportunity to reflect on their time at BaMidbar. Students wrote poetry, journaled, and observed the more-than-human world in which they were immersed. They worked on their “future plans,” preparing for their transition home from BaMidbar.

The final full day of the program was Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Hebrew calendar and a day of mourning that commemorates the fall of the second temple in Jerusalem. Before the fall of the temple in 70 CE, Jewish tradition revolved around temple observance. The temple was central to the structure of Jewish religious, spiritual, and communal life. After the fall of the temple, the rabbis gathered in the town of Yavneh and reimagined Jewish life without the structure the temple had provided. They rebuilt in the face of great change, and through that process the Talmud and rabbinic Judaism were born. On Tisha B’Av, BaMidbar’s students learned about the fall of the temple and the town of Yavneh, and defined their personal Yavneh by exploring how they would carry their values and learnings forward as they left the structure provided by BaMidbar.

Image: A student hiking along a trail

We are so grateful for the opportunity to  work with such a dynamic, thoughtful, and caring group of students this summer!

BaMidbar is working to ensure that Jewish youth and young adults have the confidence, skills, and community support to navigate life’s challenges and thrive in the face of adversity. Help us address mental health in the Jewish community. BaMidbar is a 501(c)3 public charity and your donation may be tax-deductible.
Support BaMidbar