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.
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.
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.
For more information see:
Finnish Youth Centres: https://www.snk.fi/en/adventure-education/
European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE network): https://www.eoe-network.eu
Europe Goes Local (Nuotta coaching): https://www.europegoeslocal.eu/egl-action/nuotta-coaching-for-young-people-not-in-education-employment-or-training-neet-oulu-finland/