Outdoor learning in Romania

In February wildnismentors of three countries got to know the Outward Bound experiential learning approach in a 10 day Erasmus+ funded mobility in Sovata/Romania. We enjoyed team building as well as energizing games, cooperatively climbing the Jakob´s ladder in the ropes course and an expedition to the Gurghiului mountains. Watch our video to get to know about leader of the day ceremony, snowshoe walking, digging a snow den to sleep in and so much more. Also visit our January blogpost to see stunning animal footprints we have found in the mountains.

For a detailed description of one of the Romanian participants visit Timmi´s blog.  AP

MEMORIES
from
Szováta, Outward Bound
February 2022


Here comes a collection of memories, thoughts and photographies from the swedish group that visited Outward Bound in Szováta, Romania. Each one of us have contributed in our own way so that you as a reader can get a glimpse into our experience of this very interesting and developing journey.
We hope that you will enjoy it!

TOVE, Swedish student

This photo shows a moment that I dearly remember from our journey. It is when we on the second day hiked up on a hill with a beautiful little chapel looking out over Szováta and were encouraged by Emöke and Dorina to engage in a solo moment. I chose a beutiful pine tree to lean my back against and enjoyed the wiew. What came into my mind at this moment was that we sometimes really need a moment of solitude or space to be able to take in, process and enjoy our new experiences. Moreover it’s a great opportunity connect with nature, to be in it with all your senses, and with your full attention. It is truly wonderful to be in a group/team and chit chat, laugh and share stories, but these moments of silence and space in between makes the social times even better!

This moment is also very important to me. It looks dark, wet and a bit tough perhaps… But it wasn’t at all! A couple of us decided (with Adáms help) to build a quinzee. We worked until it got dark, and although it took a lot of time and hard work it was so fun! We initiated a system where two people were digging inside the quinzee, one person was handing the snow filled bucket out to two other people who emptied the bucket – to send it right back inside again. While doing this we came up with these little sounds: ”HUH!” and ”HAH!” which made it feel so much more enjoyable. For me I was glad to notice that we as a group made something that could’ve been (as before mentioned) dark, wet and tough, into a fun and joyful teamwork experience!

CHELSEA, Swedish pedagogue

How the exchange affected me? Well, I remember having had a couple of hectic days where we had done loads of team-work activities and I felt a little worried about how we were all going to manage to be outside together for three nights. As we were planning the expedition there were discussions about what differences and similarities our schools had towards the concept of “bringing groups out in nature” and it seemed like we had quite different ideas and methods. The Romanian Outward Bound Program and the Coyote Mentoring methods which the German group uses seemed different from how Sjövik does “Friluftsliv” and “Färd”. But there we were, four nights later, and it felt like we had all become a big family. We climbed the mountain in snow shoes, sang songs together, made fire under the stars and enjoyed “fika” in the sunshine. We followed the tracks of a wolf through the snowy trees and on the top of the mountain, the snow was so deep the spruces were made into ice sculptures and all we could hear was the wind. We all enjoyed being outside together so much our different “methods” made no difference. Being together, laughing together and looking for bear tracks in the snow brought us all together, and I felt so close to everyone even though we had only known each other for a couple of days. This, for me, was a very cool experience. That regardless method, we all want to achieve the same thing: being together outside – exploring nature.

JONATHAN, Swedish student

This moment was very special to me cause the view was both special and amazing. It was so new for me to be able to see through the trees down to the earth. You can se the tree line then under that is the mountain line. The nature is truly wonderful.

LINDE, Swedish student

This photo represents how much fun we had playing in the snow and literally walking in a fairytale.

This photo represents how we made it to the top and enjoyed our lunch. Some were colder than others, must most of us happy and ENJOYING nature and each other’s company. Such surrealistic and beautiful surroundings. Like we were in a dream but than even better! Also really cool how the group became a group on the expedition! 

No words…. <3

Jonthe and me 🙂 because we had so much fun together and because he and sooooo many others where so loving and helpful lifting my backpack on and off my back without any problem (because I had injured my hand I wasn’t allowed to lift). The helping hands meant a lot to me <3

This pic represents group effort and thankfulness. The second group (my group) arrived later at the cabin, where the first group had started working already. It looked like a LOT of work and it was so wonderful we came ‘home’ to that. AND great to see that they were doing it with a smile.

This one is of me, Tove and Malin with our Romanian outward bound buffs and a feather sticked into our hair. It just makes me happy. How we’ve became (even) closer but also how we all in our group enjoyed nature’s gifts so much.

Here’s to the group that found something interesting again. I loved how we all dragons got so curious, excited, creative and conscious on our trip. We really took time for it. Really loved being present!!!

Of course I had to add André being excited about tracking. He made me super excited about it too!!!

DANIEL, Swedish Student

Being together with people you don’t know, that come from several different corners of Europe, and all living outdoor life together in ways you haven’t ever tried before, created many deep moments of connection and experience.

MALIN, Swedish Student

The first picture is from the second day in Outward Bound, Jacobs ladder. To be able to get to the top we needed to work together and communicate. When climbing with my group I felt free and right in my comfort zone. I liked the way we communicated and the feeling everytime we came one step higher and then finally reaching the top with the help of each other.

The second picture is about a challenge from our expedition. I got the chance to practise and overcome my uncertainty with reading maps and compass, it was a great feeling being able to navigate and finding the way, with the help of the group!

JONATHAN, Swedish student

TRAVELING BETWEEN SEASONS AND BIOTOPES

We started approximately 600 meters above sea level close to Szovata. I quickly began to curse my choice of boots for this hike. After some consideration I had chosen to bring my Lundhags Guide-boots, a boot made for harsh winter conditions. But so far winter in Romania looked like a whole different thing from Swedish winters. Snow was nowhere to be found, the sun was shining, and the temperature was around ten degrees. After an hour or so the hike started to get steeper, and we were gaining altitude quite rapidly. But it was still spring, especially as far my overheated feet were concerned. 

We climbed a hundred meters, then another hundred, and then another hundred. Now things started to look promising. Suddenly we were surrounded by snow, in the middle of a beautiful beech forest. Now, as a swede, this was very fascinating. In Sweden we do have beech forests, but they are located in the southern part, on sea level. I was stunned by how beautiful this, for me, new type of winter was. And my feet happily thanked the change in climate.

We continued climbing. When we at 1400 meters altitude arrived at our final destination for the day, a nice hostel at the bottom a ski slope, the snow was almost a meter in depth. Groves of spruce trees started to break the previous domination of the beeches. 

The day after, we continued our climb. Spruces continued to gain ground on the beech, until we found ourselves in a completely spruce-covered landscape. The snow depth was now around one and a half meter. Being this high up, while still being surrounded by trees in this winter wonderland environment, was nothing short of amazing. The experience of travelling this quickly between seasons and biotopes is something that I will remember for a long time.

Impressions of two German participants

Simone

I am deeply touched by the beauty of the Romanian landscape and nature which seems unspoiled in some areas. The expedition to the mountains was an amazing but also exhausting experience. The group really became a unity. The collective experience caused cooperation and trust among all participants. Everybody could develop further by overcoming hurdles and relying on the group. For me the communication in English, the ascend on the Jacob´s ladder and some other challenging situations presented such hurdles.

It was very interesting to learn more about the differences and similarities of our programmes.

The feeling of community, the warmth and cordiality, the laughter, the singing, the joy, the fun, the interesting conversations and the friendship to participants from 7 nations will always be a very fond memory of mine. Simone

Christine

When I think about those 10 days in Romania, I feel blessed – blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people, to see and feel and connect to the Carpathian landscape.

We arrived as a bunch of mostly strangers and left as parts of a big family.

I was challenged every day in a lot of ways, physically and mentally. I learned to rely on the others and to care for me as well as the group. I learned to step up as a mentor and a part of the group and to content myself with limited energy. I questioned my beliefs and adapted them. I used snowshoes for the first time. I learned some Swedish songs and the first steps of Kulning (a Swedish vocal technique). I re-discovered the art of needle-binding. I took a bath in the snow. I danced to Romanian folk music. Sometimes I felt totally exhausted and yet elated, connected, part of something great.

These days will stay with me as a profound experience. Now I am more aware of my skills, my limits and my understanding of nature connection and mentoring style.

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