Adventure or not? Common threads part 2

Adventure or not? Common threads part 2

In the last article, I shared a story about my personal experience at a training course in northern Finland back in December. Now, let’s take a closer look at a few themes, the common threads present in the approach towards adventure education in the Far North.

Since 2015 Momentum World has supported 7 outgoing UK volunteers who completed their European Voluntary Service or European Solidarity Corps supporting projects at Villa Elba, of one of the Finnish Youth Centres. It is there, where UK volunteers learned first-hand about experiential learning, and the Finnish pedagogical approach to running activities in the youth centre network. You can read their stories via this site or by accessing stories on EuroPeers UK.

Young people at the centre of the experience

Young people’s personal growth and learning experience are always at the forefront. Young people are to take ownership of their learning and are part of the process from start to finish. The planning, the brainstorming sessions on their outdoor education experience are heavily informed by their influence, guided by skilled outdoor educators, and their youth workers, supported by teachers. Young people have multiple options to choose from, keeping in mind the learning outcomes; improving their mental health, expanding their skillset, level of difficulty, and stretching their mental capacity to face up to life’s challenges. Great care is taken to assess the activities, reflect on success and failure, and improve on future programmes. The system works with the values outlined below in mind and sees outdoor education as part of a bigger picture, contributing to the development of young people, enhancing their place in a community, and society as a whole.

Source: SNK Finnish Youth Centres

Opportunities are perennial

Any time, any season, any place could be the stage for an outdoor adventure. It is the planning, and preparation for the conditions, and circumstances that are key to achieving success with a given group. At the Finnish Youth Centres opportunities are made available to young people throughout the year. Here in the UK, we often think of outdoor adventures in the context of the summer months which is limiting the offer, and reach.

Nuotta coaching

If a group of young people or individual young people require extra level of support, Nuotta coaching can be applied. This approach has been offered within the Finnish Youth Centre system for over a decade now, targets 13-28 year-olds, and promotes inclusion. It has therefore successfully supported the development of NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training). Teaching young people new skills, the value of reflection, problem solving, teamwork, adaptability to unknown situations are all crucial components. Activities themselves are normally spread across a number of days, and require a significant time commitment of those involved. Zooming in on individual strengths of young people, and further building their confidence to face up to new realities are all part of the journey. Nuotta coaching is perhaps worth exploring in the UK context for groups of young people fitting the profile as it would with great probability benefit their long-term prospects in line with personal and professional growth.

By Olga

For more information see:

Finnish Youth Centres:

European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE network):

Europe Goes Local (Nuotta coaching):


Adventure or not? Who’s to say…part 1

Adventure or not? Who’s to say…part 1

Last month, I got a unique opportunity to spend a week before Christmas over in the snowy Lapland, Finland. We have already dedicated a few posts to sharing the experiences, the methodologies from the training course, and over the next few weeks, we will be covering more topics, all linked to outdoor and adventure education. This training course was made possible with Erasmus+ funding and welcomed 36 participants from Germany, Finland, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.


Group at Oivanki

I had hoped to experience exciting winter activities with fellow youth work professionals, and learn about the Finnish approach to the great outdoors in youth education, but I discovered so much more along the way.


Kuusamo Airport

It is a chore to travel especially when air travel is in the picture. As we all know flying is mostly waiting at airports, getting through security behind passengers who take forever to empty their pockets but the hope is always, that at the end of this arduous process we will get to our final destination. Travelling during Covid times has not been easy but I would like to say that for the most part, I have found my fellow travellers more organised, more patient, and generally accepting of the added restrictions.

So, how do you get to a remote area of Finland in winter? You take a connecting flight from Heathrow via Helsinki to Kuusamo, a town with a population of under 15.000 people, and hope for the best when you are driven on a coach through a thick forest covered in snow. The weather conditions were generous to us that week with mild temperatures of around -5C and some additional snowfall. The week previous to our arrival they saw -25C which is COLD and would have been more of a challenge to us during the week of the training. I should also mention that due to the season, there is limited daylight, which lasts about 4 hours a day, and then it’s dark. It does take some getting used to, with lots of coffee, and a range of activities helping us all to stay awake.


Snowshoe hike at a national park

The Finnish Ministry for Education supports financially and supervises 9 youth centres scattered across the country. The Oivanki Youth Centre happens to be one of them. Located 15km outside the town of Kuusamo, in the middle of the woods, by a lake, the area has a lot to offer and is a perfect setting for a number of activities throughout the entire year. The centre staff made sure that the guests got to try traditional pastimes such as the sauna, ice-fishing, ice-hole swimming, Finnish curling, cross-country skiing, snowshoe hiking, and others. Outdoor education forms a vital component in the Finnish approach to youth work and youth development as a whole.


Group trying Finnish curling

I will refer back to the title of this post; as in who is to decide whether any given activity is an adventurous one? Is it the role of a youth worker to plan, and execute these activities for the young people they work with? Should young people be part of the process from the start? During the training we tried to answer these questions, all according to our own experience and different national perspectives. It is also key to the success of these outdoor education opportunities, learning outcomes, and long-term educational impact for young people.

In the next posts, I will be covering the Finnish pedagogical approach to running their youth centre network, the youth-oriented approach, the Nuotta coaching, experiential learning, as well as the overall importance of reflection in youth work. Watch this space.

By Olga

For more information check out:

Finnish Youth Centres:

Oivanki Youth Centre:

Youth In Action Finland

A week in Arctic Finland

A week in Arctic Finland

I have just come back from a week in Arctic Finland, at the Oivanki Youth Centre, where there is just 3 hours of actual daylight and lots of snow, this time of year. I was taking part in an Erasmus+ project investigating and sharing knowledge around Developing Adventure Educational Camps in the Far North.


UK’s presentation during Intercultural evening

The project enabled individuals to come from all over Europe, sharing their practices from the organisations they work with. Being in the company of such a wide range of individuals, has energised me to build into my work models and knowledge shared. I am aiming to use the adventure models shared at the conference in my teaching of a module at the University of Derby on Adventurous Journeys. The models on developing a process for delivering adventure, will aid the students to build their own adventurous journey and the reflective process in the reviewing of their journey.


An image of a true Finnish winter

During the week we used the environment around the centre for reflective walks and leisure activities, such as skiing, curling, dog sledding, and ice- fishing. The evenings were used to explore the different cultures of the countries, with the sauna and ice hole dip becoming a main stay of the evenings. In all the winter weather and dark days was an amazing background to explore the topics of Adventure Education Camps in the Far North.

By Pete Gilliver, Senior Lecturer, University of Derby

EuroPeers UK Update

EuroPeers UK Update

I am Olga, and I manage EuroPeers UK, the international opportunities network for young people in the UK. EuroPeers have been very busy in 2019 with activities popping up all over the country, from Aberdeen to Falmouth, from London to Edinburgh. One of the highlights this year must of course be the international training course which we got to organise in Liverpool in February. We also delivered two successful training courses at a national level for the new recruits and we have seen them run inspiring activities in their regions. You might have seen us at university events near you, or perhaps read our stories on the EuroPeers website and social media. 

A delegation of EuroPeers UK attended the 5th European Meeting in Utrecht in October, which
welcomed EuroPeers from all across Europe as well as representatives of National Agencies. We look forward to getting involved in international events in the coming months.

I would like to encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter on the EuroPeers UK website.

In 2020, our youth-led Executive Team will be working on reaching even more young people regionally and delivering sessions to those who are internationally minded, but struggle to find user-friendly information on Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps. EuroPeers UK are here to inspire others to embark on experiences abroad, EuroPeers UK are here to support others with their journeys. We are now in the process of updating our website to make it more accessible to various different audiences.