Historic Youth Leadership Course Adapts to New Online Reality

Updated: Jan 7

The creative brains of Dror Israel’s youth movement are hard at work exploring how to train tomorrow’s leaders and counselors using digital means and other tools for social distancing

For the first time since the State of Israel was established, there will be no traditional summer youth movement leadership training courses. It is hard to overstate the significance of this for youth movements like the Federation for Working and Studying Youth – Dror Israel’s youth movement. The summer leadership course is nationally recognized, year after year preparing a new generation of junior counselors to guide youth movement activities throughout the country. The course has a proud history, boasting the likes of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and even Ariel Sharon among its alumni. Now, for the first time in more than 70 years, the course’s existence has been jeopardized by the ongoing crisis of COVID-19.

A normal summer in Dror Israel's Youth Movement

In a normal summer, more than one thousand 9th-graders from the entire breadth of Israeli society would make their way to a campground in a forest in northern Israel for an 11-day leadership training course. There they would learn the fundamentals of informal education, including how to work with and mentor large groups of kids, guide hiking trips and create safe, secure and enjoyable environment for kids on overnight and regular activities. This year, the sounds of thousands of young people talking, laughing, singing and learning together will go silent as the forest lies dormant under the prohibitive government restrictions applied to youth activities this summer.

However, Dror Israel’s youth movement leaders have refused to give in. The education team moved swiftly into adaptation mode, trying to understand how to bring the course's content directly to the teens stuck at home.

“The first thing we had to do was train the facilitators of the course,” said Maya Lamm, a key person on the team charged with adapting the course to fit the times. “The leadership training course is something that usually happens nationally with around a thousand participants. We had to translate it to be a localized course for teens in specific locations in smaller groups. The course is also usually run by counselors in their late 20s