Project number — 2017-1-EE01-KA105-034734
“EcoTrekking on the way to mindful lifestyle” was an international Youth exchange in which were involved 30 participants from Cyprus, Lithuania, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and Estonia.
Dates: 08.09.2017 – 14.09.2017 (07.09. arrival day; 15.09. departure day)
Participants: 16-23 y.o. (group leader 18+)
Group per country: 4 + group leader
Venue: Suburban camp Vihasoo, Tammispea Village, Estonia (70km from Tallinn)
Applicant organization: NGO Youth Centre Vihasoo (Estonia)
How was born the project idea:
Estonian initiative group, which consisted of three people, wanted to raise awareness for the topics of environmental, healthy and mindful lifestyle among youngsters. The idea was to show through practical workshops what everybody can do to raise own awareness as well as sharing learned skills and knowledge back in the home countries. Initiative group was ready to share own experiences connected with hiking and environmental friendly lifestyle and choose also the project venue in purpose to show youngsters what it’s needed to protect.
To raise awareness among youngsters in age 16-23y.o. of environmental problems in partner countries and discuss solutions that can be implemented in our everyday lives
• Improve knowledge of environment protection methods across the countries
• Support passion for ecology and environment in youngsters
• Interaction between young people interested in green environment subject
• Motivate young people to do new initiatives (Erasmus +) to promote more ecological lifestyle
• Learn ecological actions and try them first-hand
• Get out of the comfort zone by participating in a two-day hike
• Get to know different cultures
• Non-formal learning experience through methods trekking, games, simulations, team working, sessions
• Foreign Language practice
• Self-reflection on each stage of the project for the learning recognition process
Day 1 – Introduction, getting to know each other, Teambuilding
After all groups arrived together in the evening to the Camp, the project started on the first day with introduction of the stuff, letting participants know about camp rules and first games to get to know each other, to avoid to call everybody “you” instead of using the actual name. With different teambuilding activities we started to break the ice and to interact with each other to achieve managing the tasks together. Of course, we were also talking about expectations, fears and possible contributions of participants to involve everybody as much as possible and making the organization team aware of ideas of participants. The first evening we spent with learning new things about Estonia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic and of course also enjoying the traditional food.
Day 2 — Workshops part 1
On the second day we already started with the workshops. To be more specific: the Czech group organised a world café on the project related topic and so participants went from station to station and wrote and draw down their opinions, ideas and solutions. In the afternoon Estonian group organised a practical workshop and taught how to make a fire and how to cook delicious pancakes on the fire.
After that interesting day we got ready for the second intercultural evening where Germany, Lithuania and Finland showed us what are the specialities of their countries.
Day 3 – Hiking experiences
This day was for some of us already a challenge, for others just a Sunday-afternoon-walk but still for everybody a unique experience. Out from the gates of the camp we started our hike to the half island of Käsmu. During our walk we had to manage some tasks like hiking in silence for one hour and talking with a partner about different questions two other group leaders prepared for us. All that we could enjoy with the beauty of Estonian nature around us.
Day 4 – Canoe trip
The fourth day offered something special for us and for some of us again something new: a Canoe trip. In pairs of two we took a canoe and faced new challenges on the water. Although the river wasn’t that wide, it still prepared a lot of obstacles for us. Stones under the water surface we didn’t see, trunks, which blocked our ways and small curves, which made it sometimes quite difficult to steer the canoe. But all the effort we had to show was worth it for the experience we got and the nature we saw. After that we came back to the camp and learned in the workshop organized by the Finnish group how to repair our clothes and how to make self-made bracelets.
Day 5 – Hiking part 2 and more workshops
On this day we did again a little hiking and had again some tasks on the way. The most difficult thing was to walk blind in groups of 5 people with just one or two people to guide the way, but the solution to guide our groupmates safely through the forest were pretty creative and nobody got harmed fortunately. At the end of our way there was waiting a viewing platform for us with an amazing view over the Baltic sea. Back to the camp in the afternoon we had the last workshops organized by Cyprus and Germany. We were debating about environmental problems and afterwards we did some meditation.
Day 6 – What is Erasmus+ and planning of dissemination process
Our time in the forest came slowly to an end but before we had to talk about our dissemination strategies, because after a project it is still an important thing to do to spread the outcomes of the project. Before we learned more about Erasmus+ to understand the structures and not everybody knew what the YouthPass is, we received later. In the national groups we discussed about possible dissemination activities and some groups had pretty nice ideas like, for example, a Zero Waste week.
Later on, after the evaluation, warm words for everybody and getting the YouthPass, we started a barbecue and campfire evening to celebrate our last hours in the camp. We enjoyed the atmosphere under the sky with stars, playing guitar, singing and talking with each other.
Day 7 – Saying goodbye to the camp and coming back to Tallinn
The morning we spend with cleaning the camp, packing our stuff and taking group pictures at the beach. After the lunch it was time to take our backpacks and suitcases and to go to the bus which took us back to the city. The international groups stayed for one more night in a hostel and used the free time in the afternoon to discover the city until they had to departure the next day.