This is a reference for Atanas Genkov

Find Your Place - Empowering Youth for Active Participation through Nature Experience

The training activity took place
in Glücksburg, Germany
organised by Youth in Action, German NA
8-14 June 2013

Aims & objectives

‘Find Your Place’ is a 5-day training course for youth leaders, youth workers & trainers who seek to further develop their competencies to empower young people - to take initiative and responsibility for themselves and their community - by using outdoor experiences, nature- based education and activities within the local community.

By the end of the project, participants will be able to use and apply a wide range of outdoor and nature-based tools and methods for empowering young people.

• To raise awareness about the variety of learning opportunities that the local environment can offer within the non-formal education of young people.
• To allow participants to experience, and reflect on, the use and the educational value of innovative outdoor methods that support youth workers to promote the involvement and initiative-taking of young people in their local communities.
• To explore the different understandings of what ”interconnectedness with the natural world“ means in terms of educational work with young people.
• To connect and contribute to the local community (of this training course) and reflect on the potential values and competences that such activities encourage in young people’s sense of responsibility and initiative-taking.
• To encourage participants to share good practices from their own experiences in order to facilitate peer learning and future cooperation.

Target group & international/intercultural composition of the group & team

25 experienced youth workers, youth leaders and trainers, who either:
- have experience with outdoor activities (outdoor sports trainers, outdoor summer camp leaders, etc. ) and want to develop further their competences in nature-based education; or
- work in urban areas and want to integrate the use of natural environment in their work.

The participants were from the following countries: Germany, Bulgaria, France, Estonia, Turkey and Croatia

The trainers were from Bulgaria, Switzerland, Hungary and Germany

Training methods used & main activities

The core of the Find Your Place programme was arguably the Solo Time. Participants were invited to spend some time alone in nature, without food (only water), with a plastic tarpaulin to build an optional basic shelter and to stay at one place they would find and to just experience the nature through the senses and the play between thoughts and environment. We also invited participants to stay overnight, to experience a night in nature. They could choose either to return for 9 pm or 6:30 am the following morning.
This was the main bone of our training course, and thus we could divide our in three main parts:
a) Getting to know each other and the place and building up to the solo
b) The solo and the mirroring
c) Transference and going back home

Challenge by choice
Because of the nature of the programme, in particular the solo, and the various degree of outdoors experiences, we used the “challenge by choice” approach, which invites participant to decide how “far” they want to go in the suggested activities and that they can always say “stop”. Participants felt safe with this more “inviting” approach and could trust the team and take more risks that they would normally do.

Outcomes of the activity

The project aimed to promote empowerment of young people and their active participation using nature-based education. The activities were all selected to bring a particular awareness on how nature and the sense of community can trigger, through a heightened feeling of belonging, a stronger willingness to participate in society.

Your tasks and responsibilities within the team

I was full time trainer - participating in the entire process - from the creation of the idea, development of the training course and its realisation.

I worked on this training for 5 days as a full time trainer.

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