In the beginning of June 35 adventurous youngsters from 7 random European countries managed to find their way to gather at from the world hidden place in beautiful Georgian country side. As they were turning from strangers to closer and closer friends day after day, they had no idea that there awaits for them an adventure only life can paint for you.

The first day

It was almost 1 in the morning, when British team reunited solid on the Georgian ground, and started our few hours – middle of the night wait for the bus to take us from Kutaisi to capital. But the bus never showed up… And so we decided to set a little camp on the artificial grass of the airports glass house and spent the night wrapped in our sleeping bags.

When the morning arrived and we were still looking forward to an adventure, we agreed that waiting another bunch of hours for the bus and that way missing the day, is pretty much unacceptable, so we got ourselves a taxi that took us to the city center. There we equipped ourselves with Georgian money Lari, some food for the road and caught a mini bus marshrutka to Tbilisi. Riding trough the vivid country side, we still spend most of the journey sleeping, so that we finally arrived to the capital with some new energy and elan.

Previously googling what is there to see and admire, the area of the city we ended in wasn’t by any chance that picturesque. Still, we didn’t want to miss our chance to explore, and headed to the nearest park, dragging all our luggage along. As neither the park was that much impressive, we were soon back at the station, to find our way to Rustavi, where we were meeting the rest of the crew. Tired and disappointed over public transport, we got ourselves a pretty good taxi bargain, and were finally crossing trough the nicest part of the city in style.

Despite some further complications with finding right location, we still, more or less successfully arrived to Rustavi, in a pretty much very happy mood after this unforgettable messed up day.

Camping

On the second day we made our way to our camping site in north-east Georgia, where most of the participants were divided in few big tents.

So there we spent about a week, disconnected from the outer world, but totally connected with the nature and each other. The days went by doing different sport activities, learning about each others cultures, getting some scout skills and simply enjoying life and each others company. But the major event we were all looking forward to, was the hike by the beautiful mountain river.

We actually started ‘practising’ for this with a shorter night adventure, when, in the dark, we crossed trough the woods and some rivers, and ended up in a meadow on top of the hill, far from all the city lights, where we could enjoy the stars, so shiny and bright, that you could distinguish different constellations and see the milky way.

The big hike was a bit different than planned, due to the heavy rain, that made river we were going by quite hard to cross at the certain parts. Despite that, it was still truly beautiful experience. Making our way up by the wild mountain water, crossing and climbing over different barriers, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful Georgian mountains and their fauna. Our final destination was supposed to be the waterfall, but about kilometer and half before, we reached the point of crossing river, where stream was to deep and wild due to rain. After some time of trying to find the solution, we’ve decided that it will be the safest to call it a day and return. Despite this we still had an amazing day, spent surrounded with beautiful nature in a beautiful company.

On our way back to Rustavi, right after breakfast, we’ve stopped at the Kindzmarauli winery in Kvareli. After a short trip around the property, during which we learned about old and new ways of local wine making, we were given a special tasting of their most popular wines. This certainly granted the whole group happiness for the rest of the day.

Tbilisi

On the last two days of our staying in the country, we gave capital the second chance. This time we were taken to the old city center, where every corner turned out to be a candy for our sight. We made our way to Dzveli waterfall behind the sulphur baths (finally, we saw ‘waterfall’ that brought us all the way to this side of Europe).

We continued by walking to the Narikala fortress on top of the hill (and found an amazing mulberry tree by the way). There we got ourselves a little lunch, with a spectacular view over the city. We’ve enriched our journey getting down by cable car and then randomly walking around the old town, admiring architecture of random houses with pointy windows and beautiful balconies.

We finalised this day with traditional Georgian dinner, where we were able to taste so many things, from ‘khachapuri’ filled bread and ‘khinkali’ dumplings to ‘badrijani’ eggplant rolls, different meat, veggies and mushrooms, and of course some good Georgian wine, while enjoying performances of traditional music and dances.

On our last day we gave ourselves a special treat and visited one of the traditional sulphur baths. Used to more European shared spas, we felt very unique, getting the whole room with a sauna, hot and cold pool, massage table and chilling area just for ourselves. Beside amazing relaxing experience, the bath itself was also striking, all crowned with colourful and shiny mosaics.

We continued our day by visiting the botanical garden, where we were able to admire yet another beautiful waterfall.

Day ended by getting a big ice cream in a waffle, some traditional Georgian soup and a nice long walk around the enlightened city at night, which took away most of our sleep before leaving it at the sunset on the next day.

Videos by participants

What Abroadship’ers Say?

Tanja (UK):  “I really love the idea and program that’s different compared to the usual projects. I used to grow up in a farm, and being outdoor, especially i the warm days, way always majority of our lives, which I can’t experience so much since moving into big city. The program itself very much reminds me of camping trips we had each year in elementary school and imagining myself there would in a way be like returning into my childhood that I would love to relive once again.”

Oksana (Ukraine): “I became more self-confident. I also realized how much I need to spend regularly some time outdoors to have strength to do my job. I understand now better that I need harmony in my life: I need to have enough time not just for my work or my friends but also for myself”

Laura (Armenia): “Depending on a tensed daily routine we can’t even notice how we ignore valuable moments and got used to a robotized life without even thinking about the harmony of body, mind and soul. It is not said in vain ” In a healthy body healthy mind”. So we need to make a step right now and here.This project is a way to help us change ourselves in a good and healthy way. Being sustainable tourism student I strongly highlight the importance of sustainable development.This project contains sustainable elements in and is a great opportunity for people to adopt actions of sustainable living that can help them to reduce environmental impact by altering a lifestyle. Being as a scout for a long time I’ve learned to live in a tent, be always ready to help, find happiness without internet , enjoy real moments of life, promote peace, gave mutual understanding and respect. And I am sure that this is a great opportunity for me to use all my knowledge and experience and also get valuable experience back. Being surrounded with foreigners, making friends, exchange with different cultures carriers is a kind of perfect self improvement. It will help me to improve my inner self-mold with nature and keep my health and mind balanced. I am more than even sure that after coming back, I can start doing the same in Armenia and invite people here for the same purpose.”

Angelika (Poland): “As a young doctor I understand how important is nature and sports in our life. We should spend time with nature every day. I would like to learn how motivate people to sports and contact with nature because they don’t do it. A lot of people are obese now and I should motivate my patient to outdoors activity. I like sport and I love travel”

Luis (Portugal): “As an internet entrepreneur I spend a lot of time in front of my laptop, and for that reason I started enjoying more my off time. Started going for some walks with friends, started going to the gym and watching over what I eat. And this programme fits this new way I have to face my life. I really want to turn it around and be healthier and more in touch in nature, I just have to disconnect more and learn to enjoy the outdoor life – be more adventurous”

Roberto (Italy): “I feel overwhelmed by life in a big city, with little opportunities to enjoy nature. I work everyday with my laptop and phone is always at hand for contacts and projects. I see this project as a way to know more about natural environment and to create a network of people whom enjoy live in the wild and with whom I can share future travels in the wild. Plus, in Italy I hardly find times to practice my English and this will be a great opportunity to dust this language”

Davit (Georgia): “Its very important for me to meet new people, get new experience and skills. its a good opportunity for me to find out more about new cultures and get new friends from different countries. Also, as scouting is my hobby I am active person and I think I am in good condition to do lots of sports and outdoor activities. I want to share information and my knowledge about Georgian nature, culture and so on.”

Project Description

Youth Exchange: East Or West – Outdoors is the Best

Location: Georgia

Dates: 4-13 June 2018

Number of participants: 35

Participating countries: United Kingdom, Georgia, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Ukraine, Armenia

Age: each country send 4 participants + 1 youth leader. Participants are aged 18-30 and youth leader has no age limit

Organizer: Abroadship.org

Your applications will be reviewed and you will be selected by sending organisation from your country, so if any particular question, please inquire at following emails:

Abroadship.org UK hello@abroadship.org
Georgian Youth For Europe Georgia georgianyouth@gmail.com
Vedogiovane Italy bellomo_francesca@yahoo.it
Institute of Ukrainian Studies Ukraine project-coordinator@ius.lviv.ua
4YOUth Poland exchange@4youth.pl
Novo Mundo Portugal gj.novomundo@gmail.com
The Young Biologists Association Armenia hripsimeatoyan@gmail.com

Inquiries about this project: Justinas at hello@abroadship.org

East Or West – Outdoors is the Best #1 Georgia

Download here: East or West Outdoors is the Best – youth exchange – Georgia – abroadship.org

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Context

Nowadays youngsters spend more and more time indoors, which leads to a passive and what is a bigger concern – apathetic style of life. Contemporary youth is the first e-generation, which grew up in the environment of computers, i-pods, Internet, Facebook, playstations and can stay in front of the computer 12 hours non-stop. This generation avoids going out and having fun with simple things like hiking and camping in the nature.

With this project we would like to bring you outdoors, give a chance to re-discover, re-invent and be surprised by outdoor world of nature. We seek to address the importance of spending time outdoors: exploring the nature, to show that spending time and learning outdoors is a great way to keep fit both mentally and physically.

Based on long standing scouting experience, we designed a unique programme of outdoor experiential learning that enables and increases personal (me), social (we) and environmental (all) interactions, exchange of experiences and understanding among people of various backgrounds, nationalities or beliefs, beyond cultural and traditional barriers. This programme also promotes cultural diversity by involving European and non European participants.

Overall Focus

Project “East or West – Outdoors is the Best” is a multilateral 2 phased youth exchange project aimed to promote healthy behaviours, in particular through promotion of sports and outdoor activities as a mean to reach a healthy lifestyle.

  • To uncover the main principles of outdoor education and to use the experience as a learning tool with the main focus on outdoor activities
  • Through personal experience to increase motivation and involvement of youth in organising activities in the nature
  • Promote healthy life style and sport activities
  • To experience camping and living outdoors
  • To increase multicultural competences among participants

Who Should Attend

The background of participants is 18-30 years old youth, who are motivated to look from indoors to outdoors perspective, change the lenses of inside camera, take an eagle approach, who are willing to challenge and (re)discover himself/herself and at the same time to incorporate the views of others (developing intercultural empathy) and acknowledge environmental responsibility. It is for youth that are open minded to explore sensitive topics via outdoor setting, who are eager to hike, camp and interact with other minds alike.

Programme of East or West – Outdoors is the Best

DAY 0: Arrival to Georgia

DAY 1: Welcome, team building and Camp Fire Construction

DAY 2: Indoor and Outdoor Educational Theories. Orientation in Nature. Compass, Mapping

DAY 3: Learning by doing. Orientation during the night. Night hike

DAY 4: Sports, Olympic Games & My country; Famous Athletes & National Sport competitions. Treasure Hunt

DAY 5: All Day Hike: Healthy and Physically Active Lifestyle

DAY 6-7: Outdoor practicals. Knots and Rope course. Sports. Olympic Games. Mix of Cultures

DAY 8: Evaluation, E+, Youthpass, Traditional Georgian Restaurant

DAY 9: Packing and leaving

Delivery Style

  • “Learning by experience” – learning from experiencing different activities and putting them into practice;
  • “Learning to play, playing to learn” – connected with learning through games, from actions and playful environment;
  • “Learning through outdoor sports” – learning about sensitive topics while being outdoors, hiking and doing sports
  • “Learning with nature” – being aware of the environment and its stimulus to brains, mental and physical condition

Methods Used

  • Experiential learning through hiking
  • Group dynamic processes, simulations and teamwork activities
  • Inputs from experts through non-formal education lectures and facilitated processes
  • Dynamic workshops and presentations
  • Outdoor environmental work and assignments
  • Intercultural sharings, learnings and reflections
  • Learning by doing in a group setting or individual processes.

Where

We will stay 3 nights in International Scout Centre Rustavi and 6 nights in Pona campsite, which is situated in the mountainous region of Kakheti in eastern part of Georgia. Campsite offers all the necessary facilities for living and working. Participants will be living in tents shared by 2-3 people depending on tent size. Organizers will provide tents, but participants should bring their own sleeping bags:

How to Get There

  • We will send the traveling information once you are accepted to participate.
  • Fly to stunning capital of Georgia – Tbilisi or arrive via third largest town Kutaisi airports using skyscanner.net and azair.com to get the cheapest flight.
  • We will arrange the traveling from Tbilisi to Rustavi. Or will inform if there are any changes.
  • Travel will be reimbursed only for the most economical means of transportation (see fin conditions).
  • Traveling options must be confirmed at hello@abroadship.org prior to the purchase of tickets.

When to Get There

Arrival Day: 4th June

Programme: 5-11 June, in total 8 full days

Departure Day: 13th June

Days allowed to stay in Georgia: This is a great time to explore the country and its beautiful capital Tbilisi. You are allowed to come max 4 days before the YE or leave after max 4 days after the YE, but the total amount of the days that are not part of the programme is max 4 days. If you decide to stay more than 4 days longer than the official programme, you will have to cover the traveling expenses yourself. During these extra days, you have to find your own accommodation and no other expenses are covered.

Practicals – What to Bring!

  • Towels
  • Your personal things, sport clothes, warm clothes for the evenings, swimwear, raincoat, sunny clothing for warm days. Usually June is very sunny and hot
  • Comfortable shoes for hiking trips
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sun cream
  • Head lamp-torch
  • Anti-mosquito spray
  • Your national/typical food and drinks for the intercultural dinner
  •  Cameras, laptops and other equipment making life and work easier
  • The national music or music that you like
  • Information about your country (books, brochures, posters, postcards, video, presentation, music, etc.)
  • Information about the organization you come from (brochures, presentation, video, etc.)
  • Insurance – this is critical! Please arrange insurance, because we do not provide and are not liable for any incidents
  • Good spirit and positive attitude!

Weather

In June temperature in Georgia ranges from 16 to 28 degrees – pretty hot to bring protection from the sun. Expect to take a swim, melt from the sun with positive Georgian cultural wibes

Check the weather forecast here.

Medicine, Allergies and Diet

If you have illness, physical limitations and/or use medicine we need to know about, please inform us. If you are vegetarian or have special diet, let us know, indicating what you can and cannot eat, so that we can arrange the suitable food.

Follow up

There is an option to join the next youth exchange or training course, organized by us, as a group leader. Check Abroadship.org.

Contact

For information about practical matters, accommodation or how to get to the place, please contact Abroadship.org at hello@abroadship.org