B’naiture Mentoring & Four Worlds Approach

Coming-of-Age

B’naiture is a coming-of-age journey from childhood into adolescence.

Our program supports the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual passage of youth from childhood innocence into the teenage years, where one opens to greater awareness of self and the world.

This can be an exciting and challenging time for youth and parents, and it can be difficult to navigate without guidance and outside mentorship. We craft a journey that supports the whole family to move through this rite of passage with grace and confidence.

B’naiture Meaning

“B’naiture” is a play on the Hebrew words B’nai Mitzvah and the English word ‘nature’.

B’nai Mitzvah is the plural for Bar or Bat Mitzvah, which means to be a son or daughter of the mitzvot.

The word mitzvah is often times translated into English as “commandment.” The root of mitzvah is related to the Aramaic tzafta which means to connect.

In B’naiture, as children become more connected to nature, they also become more connected to themselves, their peers and mentors, and Jewish tradition, preparing them for a life of rich connection.

Cohort Structure

In B’naiture, we cultivate intimacy in cohorts of boys, girls and parents, and offer different levels of challenge, skill and learning building for our first and second year participants.

1st & 2nd Years: Deer & Eagles

Tzvi’im (The Deer):

In the first year, we focus on group building, foundational skills, and establishing trusting and vibrant mentor and peer relationships.

Nesharim (The Eagles):

In the second year, the journey goes deeper, engaging in more advanced skills and mentorship that prepare your child for a year-end B’naiture wilderness solo.

Gendered Breakouts

B’naiture works with gender identity in an inclusive and developmentally appropriate way. Certain adolescent rites have historically separated youth along the gender binary (girl/boy), as in a Bat or Bar Mitzvah.

Our intention in B’naiture is to honor that many of our youth will be marking a passage into being a young woman or man, while also making space for expansive identities that transcend the binary.

We will break out into gendered cohorts where kids connect in smaller groups and explore how gender informs their journey through adolescence.

For more information about how we define and work with gender, read our FAQs.

Parent Program

Cultivating family community and involving parents in the experience is essential to B’naiture. The parent track teaches basic earth-based Jewish concepts,values and approaches to support your child during this rite-of-passage time.

Mentoring Approach

Mentoring Approach

Experienced adult and teen mentors guide each group with a maximum 5:1 student to mentor ratio.

Our first-year cohort is limited to 15 kids.

Our four worlds holistic mentoring curriculum is guided toward nourishing the body, mind, heart, and spirit of each child.

You can see our list of mentors and their bios here.

B’naiture Four Worlds

B’naiture is designed to meet the needs and support the growth of all dimensions of your child. We create a balanced program that nurtures a child’s body, emotions, mind, and spirit. We believe humans learn best when learning happens on all of these levels and strive to create a learning environment that honors this.

bnaiture-assiyah

Assiyah (Physical)

  • Adventuring into the wilderness
  • Connecting to nature through games and other activities
  • Learning about the body and changes youth experience at this life stage
  • Learning hand crafts such as cordage, carving, basketry, and more
  • Making hand-crafted Judaica such as mezzuzot, shofarot, matzah and more
  • Developing survival skills such as fire and shelter building
  • Identifying, harvesting, and preparing wild, edible, and medicinal plants for food and medicine
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Yetzirah (Emotional)

  • Engaging core Jewish values as opportunities for authentic connection
  • Cultivating self-awareness through sharing circles, journaling, and self-reflection
  • Building group and peer connection through games, adventures, and more
  • Facing age-appropriate challenges that build confidence and foster growth
  • Unplugging and creating vibrant community
  • Supporting each other through this profound life transition
  • Exploring challenges that build confidence and foster growth

Briyah (Intellectual)

  • Learning and experiencing the Jewish calendar through the seasons
  • Exploring Jewish holidays, weekly Torah portions, and core Jewish stories from around the world
  • Singing and practicing Jewish songs and basic Jewish prayers and blessings
  • Learning about local plants, animals, and ecology

Atzilut (Spiritual)

  • Learning fundamentals of Jewish spirituality
  • Experiencing Hitbodedut — sitting alone in nature
  • Practicing sensory awareness activities
  • Connecting and fostering personal relationships with Jewish spirituality
  • Working towards a final overnight solo, tending one’s own fire.

Teachings

Explore the B’naiture Philosophy & Approach with these teachings and stories from B’naiture staff, mentors, and participants.

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by Zelig Golden and Steven Green

How parents and B’naiture students collaborate to complete the B’naiture mentorship experience.

by Marina Sherman, B’naiture 2014 graduate and B’hootz Teen Mentor 2014 to present

We all have a lot to learn from Marina’s exploration of Torah portion Shelach Lecha and her perspective on peer pressure, mentoring, and speaking our truth.

by Sarai Shapiro

An article that talks about the developmental journey of a child into a teen as compared to the Garden of Eden story.

by Zelig Golden

Wilderness Torah’s core philosophy of the importance of reconnecting Judaism to nature.

by Zelig Golden

Zelig explores the ancient Jewish relationship to fire and the importance of reawakening this relationship. In B’naiture, your child will spend much time with fire.

by Rowan Gould-Bayba

Read Rowan Gould-Bayba, B’naiture 2011–13 grad’s amazing Bar Mitzvah drash–featuring lessons learned during B’naiture.

by Sarai Shapiro

The basic understanding of the cardinal directions and how they mirror the cycle of the ecological and spiritual Jewish year. This understanding of the calendar is taught to our B’naiture children.