Outdoor Academy – strategic partnership
Over the last 19 months, five organisations from Poland, Italy, Greece, Germany and Romania have been working together to develop our Erasmus+ funded ‘Outdoor Academy’. The main objective of the project was to create a long-term programme of Outdoor Education, in order to foster competences in leadership, communication and project development amongst our young participants.
Outdoor Academy kicked off in February 2017 with a meeting of international experts near the foothills of the Polish Tatra mountains. Here, we laid the foundations for our international collaboration. Our team of experts, trainers and youth workers gathered together a further two times over the course of the project, meeting in Italy in the summer of 2017 and then again in Greece in July 2018 to review and finalize the project.
Outdoor Academy delivered three main outputs, which constitute a positive and innovative contribution to both local and international youth work. Firstly, our team of experts developed a manual for a 6-month outdoor education programme, which will serve as a practical tool for educators and trainers working with diverse target groups of young people. This manual was tested in each participating country through the implementation of five pilot projects, delivered by experienced trainers and facilitators. The pilot courses enabled us to collect feedback on the applicability of the programme in differing contexts and with a diverse participant profile, and it allowed us to evaluate the methodology as well as the content of the educational material produced.
The third and main output of Outdoor Academy is a Handbook for trainers, Outdoor Education: From Theory to Practice. This publication provides both an overview of the theory of outdoor and experiential education alongside practical scenarios and activities that can be used by trainers in the youth field. It is the culmination of 19 months of knowledge exchange and interaction between our team of international experts, on the one hand, and the product of our assessment of the practical pilot projects, on the other. We believe that it will serve as a useful and practical tool for trainers who are looking both to develop their theoretical knowledge of outdoor and experiential education and to implement long-term educational projects of their own.
One of the many highlights of the Outdoor Academy project was its international scope. On the personal, professional and institutional levels, the project resulted in a strong and lasting network between the trainers, experts and youth leaders involved. As this strategic partnership comes to an end, we reflect not only on what we have achieved over the course of the last 18 months but the follow-up initiatives and projects that await.
Project “Outdoor Academy: coaching and outdoor education in youth field” co-funded by Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.