About the Wilderness Torah Training Institute


The Experience

Wilderness Torah Training Institute offers a learning journey into ancient approaches to Jewish wisdom and community, nature connection, and youth mentoring. These technologies are simple and profound. Over the weeklong training, you will:
  • Awaken your personal connection to nature and Judaism
  • Experience ways to bring Judaism alive for disengaged youth
  • Receive training in the magic and methods behind B’naiture and B’hootz, Wilderness Torah’s award-winning, transformational K–12 Jewish youth programs
  • Engage in refreshing approaches to co-creating Jewish “village” life
  • Connect with like-minded people in a vibrant, village context


Upon completion of the Training Institute, you will receive certification based on the your level of completion. All first year trainees enter Level I. We offer subsequent levels of training to deepen your knowledge and embodied experience so you can eventually step into the role of trainer yourself.

The Level I training experience provides introductory experiences in nature connection, challenges, and mentorship techniques that weave in Jewish traditions. You will also learn approaches to earth-based Judaism, foundational pedagogical tools, and how to bring primitive handcrafts and Jewish ritual alive.

Level I provides a foundation to Jewish nature-based youth mentoring. Every journey takes a first step. We invite you to join us on this journey of discovery!

Upon completion of this summer institute, you will receive Level I certification.

Level II takes participants on an journey of advanced nature connection practices and challenges, providing additional instruction and experience of how to integrate Jewish tradition through mentorship. Level II participants become part of a small, unique tribe dedicated to honing mentorship skills, deepening nature connection, and advancing understanding of earth-based Judaism. Level II participants are invited to prepare for and experience an overnight Fire Solo initiation ceremony, a la B’naiture.

Participating in Level II requires Level I certification or special permission.

Upon completion, you will receive Level II certification.

Level III takes participants deeper into their learning journey with a special focus on honing real-time mentorship skills. At Level III, you work alongside experienced Wilderness Torah mentors as apprentice mentors, integrating your learning and experiences by mentoring newer trainees. Participants receive special training, support, and feedback to help strengthen and refine mentorship skills.

Participating in Level III requires Level I & II certification or special permission.

Upon completion you will receive Level III certification.

The Elements

For seven days, immerse yourself in village-building, learning, and experiential workshops while surrounded by a beautiful redwood forest of the Santa Cruz mountains!

Earth-based Judaism Fundamentals:

  • Core Texts from Torah, Kabbalah, Chasidut, and others
  • Earth-based holiday traditions and celebrations
  • Hebrew songs and stories that connect us to the natural world

8 Shields Model Fundamentals:

  • Approaches to nature connection for healthy human development
  • Art of mentoring youth, the mind of the mentor, and holistic community cultivation
  • Curriculum and leadership design using the natural learning cycle approach and the archetypes of nature
  1. Hebrew Calendar as Nature-Connection & Cultural Operating System
  2. Jewish Values for Mentoring Youth & Connecting to Nature
  3. Jewish Blessings, Songs, and Prayers for Village-Building & Earth-Connection
  4. Core Routines of Nature Connection
  5. Introduction to Nature Skills & Crafts
  6. Challenges & Edge Experiences that Support Human Growth

Once you’ve completed the training you are eligible for more coaching and consultation through Wilderness Torah.


The Training Institute is August 29 — September 4, 2017
To create unity and cohesion in the village we ask that you attend the training from beginning to end. Please arrive early enough so that you have time to check in and set up your tent before we begin, and plan return travel so you can participate fully through closing circle on Monday.

Arrival | Tuesday, Aug 29
3:00–5:00 pm: Arrival & Check-In

General Schedule | Tuesday, Aug 29 – Monday, Sept 4
Each day the schedule will weave and balance small group time, all-community learning sessions, and community village-building experiences, along with personal time to reflect, integrate, and connect to yourself and nature.

  • Morning Prayer & Hitbodedut (time alone in nature) — Every day we’ll begin by opening our hearts, opening our song, and connecting personally to nature
  • Tribe Time — Everyone will join a small group designed to awaken the senses, play in the woods, learn nature connection routines and Jewish traditions, and encounter some challenging adventures
  • Society Time — Everyone will join a small group designed to embody and learn the 8 Shields Model for nature connection, community design, and transformational mentorship
  • Village Building — Together we will build joyous, conscious community around the fire, during meals, and with a celebratory Shabbat on the land
  • Presentations — All-community lectures and presentations will provide powerful teaching and context to support your understanding of the importance and power of nature connection, earth-based Judaism, and essential tools that support the “Mind of the Mentor”

Departure | Monday, Sept 4
1:00 pm: Departure after Closing Circle

Building the Village

Your Role
The Training Institute is a co-created experience with collective service responsibilities. The success and beauty of our village rely on our agreements for living harmoniously in community.

Tribes/Societies are small, assigned groups of participants who meet throughout the training. These small groups help people get to know each other and deepen their training experience. Each tribe has a Rosh (head) who will guide the group. Your Rosh is a contact for you throughout the training and meets daily with staff to share information and feedback from participants.