“Be included, be outdoor!”
Have you ever been outside, playing, exploring the world around you, or just enjoying it?
Have you ever shared these moments and emotions with others?
We bet you have. How does it feel?
So far, you have read the first 3 lines above. Do we have your attention?
Welcome to our journey.
The journey of 31 souls. 31 souls we call friends.
But we were strangers when we first met in Seven Sisters National Park (South England), several months ago.
Coming from 10 countries all over Europe for Erasmus+ project called “Inclusive Outdoors”.
“What is this?”, you might say.
Well, at first it looks like one of these crazy European projects, where they put you in a tent right next to a stranger for 10 days in the middle of nowhere. And then they give some strange challenges that you have to complete. You know the story.
Here is a little secret – that’s exactly what happened.
However, it was all worth it.
From strangers we became a community. A community we took responsibility for. We’ve learned from our mistakes. We cared for each other. We laughed. We did what we love. We were outside. We were together.
And when it was time to go back home. But before we did, we set a goal – everyone of us had to create and hold an outdoor event or activity before we meet again in London in two months.
Said and Done.
The time has passed. So did our activities.
It is incredible what one decision can make.
Here is what we did.
In Bulgaria the local activity was focused around social awareness and personal responsibility.
From July 29th until Aug 1st we gathered people from all ages to have some fun, while making the city a cleaner place by picking up some trash together. We changed 4 parks in the city for the better.
During the proceed we managed to collect and recycle 90 kg of glass, 6,5 kg of aluminium cans, 17,5 kg of plastic and 3,2 kg of iron.
Several activities were held in Hungary.
On a summer camp by the Danube river, we helped students in making handmade village maps, animated films and paintings, all inspired by nature.
We had a fun birthday party, where family and friends were playing water games.
We also held a nomad camp for students discovering the woods through different senses. Almost 50 students have worked in 3 groups. Each group had a different focus – movement (contact dance), voice (experimenting with human voices and sounds of animals) and silence (meditation).
We had dinner together in the woods. In complete silence. Students with special needs were also part of the group.
In Lithuania one of the program participants introduced teenagers to fun outdoor activities, like unicycling and slacklining.
Another participant was volunteering in the summer camp and worked with 92 kids in outdoors environment, surrounded by lakes and forests.The activities included teambuilding games, hiking, singing song around the fire place. “Working with kids was way easier after participating in the “Inclusive outdoors” project”, she says.
The third representative of the country was running activities with people in another Erasmus+ project. They were included using humour and subjects that matter for the most of them.
We have created several local activities in Romanian as well.
One of them was hiking in Bucegi mountains with 7 people, all from different occupations. The goal was to reach Omu peak and to sleep at Malaiesti chalet. Another activity was kayaking on Snagov Lake, between its lagoons.
Other participant worked in a summer camp in the Bavaria region of Germany. She led a group of 11 youngsters, aged 12 to 16 for 6 days.Тhe aim was learning English using games, activities and discussion.
To help them prepare for a day of outdoor rock climbing, a sport in which we have to trust others, she decided to hold a few blindfolded activities with the theme of “trust”.
Another Romanian participant used the skills trained in the project in her work with teenagers. She organized a camp for a group of 16 youngsters, focused on curiosity, adventure and inclusion. Practicing these values instead of following rules helped the participants to gain empowerment and accountability for their choices.
In Croatia, we as a team made summer camp activities, including a camp for children with autism and seaside resort animation program. Each day we were swimming, hiking, cycling, playing games, doing team building activities and much more. It was a really nice experience to work with different kinds of people and seeing how they become closer to each other.
In Spain we created and held an open activity for people, who are interested to try and practice slacklining.
There we showed how to set the slackline between two trees. After practical exercises, theory and energising games, we helped each of the participants to get on the line and walk it. Finally, there was some time for free practice.
In Italy we decided to go to a voluntary camp, based in a small town up on the hills nearby Modena.
There we guided some outdoors activities with these aims: facilitate team building, sharing out youth workers experience, reflecting together and ways to implement social inclusion.
We held a “Nature Walk for Children”, near Rugby town, England. The aims were to inspire them to open their eyes, look more closely around them, be inquisitive and curious. We saw a wide variety of plants, trees, colourful flowers, berries, seeds, nuts, toadstools, mushrooms, fairy rings, birds, butterflies and dragonflies; and even a tiny frog. Did we manage to capture their imagination? We had mixed success.
In Latvia we organized activity for people taking them of the comfort zone in nature. We were rowing a boat and hiked 15 km. We also organized a 5-day children outdoor camp with lots of activities, trainings, teachings and horseback riding for children aged 9-13. We had meals, cooked in open fire and slept in tents.
So, what is your next plan? Where will you go? What will you do? Who will join you?
The only thing you need to be outdoors is…YOU.
Together is better.