Youth workers’ and educators’ training “Outdoor Experiential Learning for Beginners” blog by Piia
I participated in the Erasmus+ project "Outdoor Experimental Learning for Beginners", which took place at the beginning of June 2022 in a small village in Croatia. A good friend and colleague encouraged me to apply for the project. The topic of the project, the location and the fact that we could participate with several Estonians at the same time were just right for me. That's how I dared to take part in my first Erasmus+ project. The information material of the training was quite comprehensive and materials related to the topic were sent for perusal even before the start of the project. We have been using "outdoor learning" methodologies for some time, but in my experience, the materials published here tend to focus on kindergarten and primary school age groups. Therefore, it was particularly exciting that the focus of the project was on young people from the age of 13. At this age, friends and groups of friends are very important, and the methods used during the project were, in addition to nature, very closely related to group dynamics, trust, knowing yourself and your surroundings, as well as taking time off. Every project day was busy. In addition to carrying out various outdoor learning methods, reflection also played an important role. Several different methods were used for this - family groups, mixed groups, pair work, individual reflection, etc. I think that it was in this project that I realized how important it is to share and make sense of what you have experienced, and that it is through making sense of an activity that you can reach a new knowledge, idea or value. Planning and completing the night hike was very exciting and a little scary at first. In a foreign country and after only a short acquaintance, we had to assess our own abilities and those of others, the local conditions, and considering the time given to travel, set the hiking route and then complete it in the darkness of the night. Locals' stories about wild boars, drunken hunters hunting them and uncovered wells didn't make it any easier. Of course, everything went well. The hiking group was nice and the selected 22 km trail was suitable for all abilities. In addition to participating in the planned activities, the participants also had to contribute to the project. For this, small groups had to organize an outdoor education workshop for other participants and local youth. There was a lot of mixed feelings, but I believe we did well. The Portuguese participants already implemented one of the ideas created that day in their youth camp. 😊 Sharing knowledge and ideas is important!! I am very happy and satisfied that I participated in the project. I got new and fresh ideas there, I met many nice people and also got the language practice I really needed.