The Teva Learning Center is a non-denominational educational service for students who attend Jewish Day schools, Hebrew schools, camps and community centers. Teva is sponsored by Shomrei Adamah at Surprise Lake Camp, an agency of UJA-Federation of New York.
Goals: The residential program for 5th and 6th grade students integrates the study of ecology and environmental education with Jewish concepts and values through hands-on activities in a cooperative, non-competitive outdoor setting. By using the forest as their classroom, Teva students also develop a greater sense of responsibility, independence, and self-esteem. They leave the program having forged intimate connections with each other and the natural world and with a deeper knowledge of how Judaism can inform our interactions with the rest of creation.
Curriculum: Over the course of four days and three nights, students participate in two types of daytime classes: Kvutzot (field groups) and Chugim (electives). In Kvutzot, students spend most of their time hiking and exploring forest and lake ecosystems. They also take part in an outdoor Challenge Course that promotes group-building skills and creative problem solving. In chugim, students choose classes on environmental and Jewish topics. Offerings are based on the particular interests and skills of the staff, and in the past have included Shelter Building, Jewish Meditation, Birdfeeder Making, Birding, Orienteering, Jewish Eco-drama and Paper Making.
Students also participate in all group programs. These will include: Nightly song sessions, a game on Predator/Prey relationships, a Garbage Show (a multi-media interactive presentation on solid waste), and a Teva Graduation Ceremony. Every student also participates in a night hike.
Schools will lead their own shacharit (morning prayer) services with assistance from Teva Learning Center staff members. Blessings are said before and after eating and taught for other natural events as a way of cultivating awareness and expressing wonder and gratitude. Additional prayer times can be scheduled upon request.
Facilities: The Teva Learning Center is hosted by several sites. Each offers excellent hiking opportunities and outdoor recreational space. All sites offer comfortable lodging and strictly kosher vegetarian food.
Safety: All Teva staff members are first-aid and CPR certified and carry first-aid kits at all times. They also receive basic wilderness medical training. In addition, a medical professional is on site and on duty all day. In case of a medical emergency, there is a hospital less than 20 minutes away from each site.
Staff: The resident Teva Learning Center staff includes an Administrative and an Educational Director, a Program Coordinator, a medical professional and a teaching staff of qualified field group leaders and specialists. In addition, schools bring adult teacher chaperones.
Teacher Resource Center: The Teva Learning Center is committed to providing teachers with practical and effective resources to reinforce our message back in the classroom. Beginning this season, we are offering an online resource center exclusively for teachers who have come to Teva. This resource center includes links to carefully selected lesson plans suitable for a variety of subjects, such as science, language arts, social studies, Judaics and Hebrew. Links include such topics as school-wide energy audits, creating a school garden, writing contests and text-study discussion questions. The resource center is continually updated to provide the teachers with the most accurate and useful information. We have taken a lot of the time out of searching through the seemingly infinite information available online and allow teachers to find quality resources quickly and easily. Check it out at www.tevacenter.org/trc/trc.asp.
In addition to providing teachers with resources once they leave Teva, we also offer a variety of classes throughout the week. While the students are off hiking and learning about our natural world, teachers can also spend the week enhancing their knowledge of Judaism and the environment. Contact Teva for more detailed descriptions of the classes.
Additionally, the Teva staff is more than happy to work with teachers on specific projects are interested in or obstacles they may run into at their school. In the past, we have worked with schools on implementing recycling programs, building school gardens, and even slightly adjusting some of the activities at Teva to better fit into the school's curriculum. The Teva staff has a wealth of collective knowledge on a wide range of environmental and Jewish topics, so please feel free to speak with us.