LOVE NATURE

LOVE NATURE

LOVE, TRADITIONS, NATURE

Always grateful. A strong wave of heat surrounding my body. I get off the aeroplane in a vague floating sensation, both physical and mental. After 11 days spent in Latvia I forgot that here (Romania) it's a strong heatwave. Because we only remember 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see and 90% of what we do in conjunction with the nature  who is the mother of learning in my opinion, I responded positively to the invitation to participate in the project Love Nature organized by Baltic Youth Way from 15-22 June 2015 in Latvia together with other participants from different countries in Europe.

As the name suggests, the project's main purpose was  to promote the love for nature and a healthy lifestyle.

For those who don't know, outdoor education is experiential , it means learning on the all three domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor or  in simpler words:  you learn with the brain, the heart and the hands at the same time.

The beauty of the project consisted in the skillful  planned  "unorganised"  organizing of the first three days of activities. Two and a half days of rafting on the  welcoming  Gauja river, a river that calmly carried us for about 80 km, fed us with the  gentleness of its landscapes and wisely guided us to the campsites protected by secular spirit of  the forests in the area.

Three days on the water, the equivalent of thousands of hours of work spent on personal development. The creativity, vitality, spontaneity, ability to  interpret, analyze, evaluate, adapt, explain, communicate, encourage, motivate, take decisions, solve problems, find  solutions,  being  in control of your mind, of  your ambition, connecting,  inferring, etc. all have worked continuously within the will to prove you are more than an entity defined by race, social class, education and culture.

The second part of the adventure in the nature was something similar to:" you can always do more than you think you're capable of" or "you made it this far, it means you want more". Crossing the marshes! Without  any special equipment, without any  assurances that everything will be fine, without our loved boats and without  any  relative experience! You stepped into the dance, keep dancing Mariuca! (Mariuca = the diminutive form for the name Maria)

What seemed to be hideously at first, transformed with every step  in a way that only nature and the direct connection with this super force knows how to craft, in a sublime way coming from all around you and anchor into your mind. The famous version of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch was miraculously transformed during  the 4.5km into Claude Monet's "Water Lilies". I was fully amazed by the marshes  silence, by the beauty of the carbon black that we were belonging  to by now,  by the undisturbed birdsongs, by the innocence of the bloomed water lilies that leaded us to joy with the  characteristic ease of the children.  I was laughing heartily at myself thinking that somehow, at some point in life I was built out of standards of all kinds.

The feelings we get out of outdoor experiences have a different emotional and psychological  load from one human been to another. The comfort zone is a psychological limitation that keeps people trapped into something undefined. 

Many people said that by certain actions they were out of this area, but it would be more effective if they would realize that they have just added new borders to this zone.  The comfort zone does not increase, it's limitation is given exactly by the term used to define the  comfortable mental state in which you place oneself or in other words how you adjust to your  mind  not the mind adjusts to you. You have to work daily to add to your comfort zone, that's why I say, conquer yourself so that you can conquer everything else. I encourage giving up such classifications related to zones and comfort, but this is another discussion that doesn't belong here.

Further on the activities were held in a welcoming guesthouse in a rural area.

Owned by a lovely family with an experience of over 20 years to receive his guests, it offered us a delicious incursion into the local gastronomy with goodies provided by the 80 hectares household, we were taught the art of sauna, we were introduced into the village lifestyle, which demonstrated once again that the people who developed this project also  excelled with the healthy lifestyle chapter.

 Activities in the days that followed somehow maintained the  alert status of a non-formal learning program, getting a bit out of the usual patterns  which have become almost stereotypical.

The last two days were holidays in the true sense, Latvians keeping alive the tradition of celebrating the summer solstice, with customs very similar to ours, the difference being that for them is indeed a national holiday.

We celebrating by dancing, playing, delicious food, offerings, cheering, entering into communion with all others both physically and spiritually.

The day we said goodbye was also the day we remembered that we never separate from anyone.

I do not believe in notes, descriptions, categorizations, reward, punishment. I believe in people.

People are beautiful and constantly evolving both psychological and spiritual.

I believe that every day of our  life experience is a " win-win situation,, "..so having said all this, I think I talked too much and my mother tongue got tired.

 

Maria

Participant from Romania

 

 

About the training course

Training course LOVE NATURE is aimed to improve knowledge and expertise about outdoor and experiential learning methods to be used in non-formal education by youth workers, trainers and leaders in European Union, Eastern partnership and Western Balkan countries for promotion of active participation and healthy lifestyle. To outline importance of nature and environment protection.

Training course LOVE NATURE will gathered 28 youth workers, trainers and leaders from Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Estonia, Germany, Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey in Northern part of Latvia - Ziemeļgauja nature park and ''Ķempēni''.
Participants had to take an active role in preparation stage of the project, to communicate actively by use of internet communication tools and arrange the practicalities of outdoor part of LOVE NATURE project. Few days of rafting and hiking activities in combination with non-formal learning methods and various outdoor activities involved in the training programme significantly improved the abilities and skills of team work and cooperation between youth workers.
Objectives:
  • To raise youth worker expertise and address importance of quality issues for using outdoor education methods in practice;
  • To explore and convert outdoor education process into a learning experience;
  • To provide youth workers with knowledge and gain new skills how to use experiential learning methods in youth work;
  • To exchange and share expertise, experience and methods of outdoor education and experiential learning;
  • Development of teamwork, leadership and cooperation skills of youth workers;
  • To improve preparation processes and teamwork between organizations and participants involved into Erasmus+ youth projects;
  • To raise awareness about sustainable development, environment and healthy lifestyle;
  • Creating open space for future project development about experiential learning and outdoor education within Erasmus+ programme.

The project LOVE NATURE resulted in creating new ideas for outdoor events and methods of promoting healthy lifestyle and active participation, to be used by youth workers and leaders in European Union, Eastern partnership and Western Balkan countries. Video material about the main activity soon will be distributed among partner organizations for promotional use.


During the main activity participants were given the opportunity to gain new skills by participating in outdoor activities through experiential and non-formal learning. The participants had an opportunity to use their experience and gain new practice and improve skills during the training course and increase the level of competences as a youth workers and youth educators.

 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.