December 18, 2014
This adventure was one of mental and physical determination, challenge and triumph. A time where people conquered their fears, faced the unknown and climbed to no end. It was not only our leg muscles that became stronger but our independence and friendship as well.
Having just been on gadna, our expectations for the whole experience werent very high, but arriving at the campsite, we were surprised to be welcomed with hot soup and fruit salad. Our jaws dropped as we saw that there were literally no facilities to clean and freshen up. Instead our showers would involve babywipes and lots of deodorant.
Before sunset we all rushed to build our 'comfy' and 'warm' homes for the night, with our thin tents, foam mats and smelly sleeping bags.
We all worked together to whip up a gourmet camp-style dinner, boys working on the barbie, and girls preparing the fries and salad. After walking 6km including climbing up our first crater, it was a relief to sit around the warm bonfire while listening to stories, drinking tea and eating biscuits dipped in chocolate. This wasn't one of an ordinary Australian hike with grass, dirt and trees but rather in true Israeli style where we were in the middle of the Negev facing sand, rocks and steep hills that we physically had to rockclimb. We hiked around the desert experiencing the unique features and scenery of this beautiful area.
We were guided by Amir who was enthusiastic and passionate about hiking. He made the whole experience fun and educational as he carried around his special whiteboard and at relevant places along the hike, would explain to us the significance of the area. His knowledge and confidence of the area was one to admire.
We experienced the desert on a much more personal level. We hid behind hills or the few bushes that were available to us as the whole desert was our toilet.
The heights and heat increased as did our heart rates...the right mindset was required and we are glad the same 34 students , 3 mads and 1 very scared teacher returned laughing with many stories to share. These few days were the highlight of IST for many as well as personal triumphs over fear.
Not only did the hike bring us students closer together, but we also developed closer relationships with the muds, teacher and security guard that joined us on our hike. We thank them for their courage, constant support and educational tips along the way.
This was an experience that will never be forgotten.