Therapeutic Expeditions

BaMidbar’s Therapeutic Expeditions are immersive 4-week experiences for young adults looking to jumpstart their future.  BaMidbar uses wilderness and adventure-based experiences as a vehicle to promote self-reflection and community connection, while helping participants build a toolkit to face life’s challenges. BaMidbar’s program is crafted to simultaneously support and challenge each individual student, allowing them to discover who they are, who they want to be, where they want to go, and how they’re going to get there. Individual therapy, group therapy, and regular processing debriefs are woven into the program structure to give space for intentional reflection, learning, and growth.

Wilderness Experience:  BaMidbar students embark on weekly masa’ot – wilderness excursions – where they spend 4-5 days in the backcountry challenging themselves in new environments, embracing the majesty of nature, and learning new skills in the great outdoors.  Students typically spend Sunday through Wednesday in the backcountry on masa.  Thursday is dedicated to adventure-programming, which can include mountain biking, climbing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, or rafting.  Activities are co-facilitated with an adventure specialist and a member of our adventure-therapy team.

Clinical Intervention: Students work with a therapist through individual, group, and adventure-based therapy.  Licensed mental health professionals are in the field 3-4 days per week, both in the backcountry and at basecamp. Learn more about BaMidbar’s clinical approach here.

Jewish Framework: At BaMidbar Wilderness Therapy, we meet every student where they are in their unique Jewish journey, and honor the roll Judaism does – or does not – play in their life.  Using 3,000 years of Jewish tradition that speaks to the question, “What does it mean to live well?” BaMidbar students explore meaning, values, and purpose through a Jewish lens. BaMidbar’s program is pluralistic, kosher, and shomer Shabbat.

What can I expect at BaMidbar? While every session is slightly different, there are overriding themes present in all of BaMidbar’s Young Adult Therapeutic Expeditions.

Week 1 – Kavanah – Intentions:

During the first week of the program, students focus on the theme of Kavanah, goal setting, intentions, and autonomy in the wilderness.  Students engage in backcountry skill-building that build self-efficacy, through a 3-day backcountry masa (excursion).  Students also have a day of equine therapy, and begin to set goals with Clinical Director Nick Magle Haberek, in individual therapy sessions.

During the first week of Launch Month, students also share their personal narratives.  There is a text in the Zohar (Zohar Va’era, 2:25b) that tells us when the Jews were in Egypt, they lost the ability to express their own stories. During that time, the Jewish people were literally slaves to another person’s narrative. When the Jewish people left Egypt, they spent forty years in the midbar. The midbar is a wilderness, but there is a second meaning that comes from the same Hebrew root – דבר – to speak. The Jewish people went into the midbar to find their voice, create a fresh identity, and write their new narrative as a free nation. While at BaMidbar, we want students to have the chance to write their own narrative – to redefine how they view themselves, reevaluate their capabilities, and rediscover their vision for a brighter tomorrow. In Week 1, students begin this process by formally sharing their Personal Narratives with the group.

Week 2 – Yirah – Awe

During the second week of Launch Month, students explore concepts of Yirah, fear and awe.  Yirah, often translated as fear, also means awe. Students explore fear and awe in the context of a safe environment and supportive community, while challenging themselves physically on a 5-day backcountry masa (excursion).   Students also learn fundamentals of nonviolent communication (NVC), and push their limits during a day of climbing.

Week 3 – Kesher – Connection

Through the lens of Kesher, connection, Launch Month students spend the third week of the program exploring the multifaceted nature of their relationships with themselves and the people around them. How can we love ourselves? How can we develop and maintain caring and compassionate relationships with others? What does it mean to be independent and interdependent, to ask for help and give help in a group environment?  Students continue learning somatic awareness skills, and embark on a solo experience. BaMidbar solos consist of 24 hours of solitude, each student having their own campsite spread out around our basecamp property. During this time, students are solely responsible for their shelter, fire-making, and cooking meals. Solos are an experience with incredible potential for students to reflect on their journey and see what physical, emotional, and mental challenges arise for them while in solitude.  The week culminates with a joy-filled Shabbat, celebrated at the Ramah in the Rockies basecamp.

Week 4 – Kehillah – Community

During the final week of Launch Month, students synthesize lessons learned through their experience, and explored how they will bring those lessons into their home community.  They explore the role of community in their time at BaMidbar and in their life outside the program, and learned strategies for building and sustaining positive social support networks outside the program.  Students design transition plans to aid in their journey onwards from the program. The program culminates with a day of adventure therapy, where students overcame fears, reached new heights, and challenged themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.