I was given the opportunity to participate in a training course in Slovenia because of my practical training at Marttinen Youth Center. Just two weeks from gaining the knowledge of the existence of the possibility, I was scouting my gate at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport ready for an adventure. I am not great with quick schedules or fast planning and packing, but because the topic of the trip hit right into the bullseye of my interests, desires and strengths, I wanted to accept the challenge.
My love for nature and camping was physically met and felt like I was in my element. I felt a great desire to socially network with like-minded people from all around the world. My passion for traveling was also fulfilled and I was happy to mentally build my nature connection even further.
The trip was organized by Association Lojtra, and funded by Erasmus+. International youth workers from Marttinen Youth Center informed me personally because the original participants canceled at the last minute. I had just finished my third Practical training and had just been starting to organize and plan my thesis project. I was free to go and travel, so I did!
The project was named Adventure Education in Youth Work and the idea was to strengthen the base of youth work by facilitating and managing, and also creating a stronger bond with nature on a personal level. I saw how my Bachelor's degree studies in Adventure and Outdoor Education course had created a specific type of image of theory- and fact-based learning connected to the topic of Adventure Education. However, I later found out that it was not the only viewpoint about the topic.
During the course in Slovenia, the used theory was handled more naturally and used rarely with intention. Instead, we had plenty of free-flowing discussions and peer learning during the ten days. There were about thirty of us, so there were plenty of viewpoints, cultures and discussions to have. We were given tools and space which were meant to strengthen commonality as well as individual wisdom. The group needs were well taken into consideration. The leaders were part of the group and with us during their free time and not separated from the group. The common spaces supported the group's teambuilding and individuals took turns to help out with the farm's household chores.
Voluntary participation was at the same time confusing and incredibly freeing for a Finnish person who loves order and schedules. The leaders used the command of ‘inviting’ at the beginning of each planned activity. With this method, it was the individual's own decision to participate and thus making the person more adaptable and motivated to participate. This type of free-flowing and voluntary action made it possible to not feel shame for not being motivated enough or to participate in a specific activity, but at the same time, the leaders take the risk of not having any participants at all.
During the ten days, we didn’t have a single obligatory activity, which created a relaxed but chaotic atmosphere at the camp. For some countries' cultures, it fit well, this laid-back style of living, but for some, it was a battle between the inner voice and outside voice, order, and chaos.
I learned during the trip to be more relaxed with chaos and go with the slower flow. I also learned how I can add a pinch of chaos to my orderly life in the strict Finnish system. I widened my viewpoint into my way of teaching and facilitating and I also found out how I would never facilitate some specific activities. All mentioned things were valuable learning opportunities that I’m truly grateful for.
Hats off to the leaders who were daring enough to take the challenge of hosting a multicultural group with a huge set of skills, and all ages, to an intensive training course of ten days!
Thank you Marttinen,
More information about the course:
Marttinen is one of the nine centres supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.