Outdoor education – a new kind of adventure!

Outward Bound, Sovata 26-30 june 2015

Also this year AMURTEL continued a wonderful tradition, with  Outward Bound in Sovata, a special kind of camping adventure and activities for children and adults of all ages. This year was attended by all the 8  youth  of Familia Amurtel, accompanied by Didi and Iulia  as well as by three EVS volunteers, Bruna, Jone and Luca.

We left Pănătău Friday, June 26 in the morning,  under a rainy sky that didn’t promise anything good and escorted us for the long ride to Sovata, a pleasant small town in Transylvania with a strong Hungarian minority, surrounded by nature and close to the mountains.

We arrived on the site, around 15:00, we had lunch, arranged our things in the rooms and started the operations, with some interesting games that required cooperation and teamwork among the kids.  The protagonists of the activities were the young adults of Familia Amurtel, assisted by the volunteers with some supervision by Didi and Iulia.

The first games demanded patience and cooperation, like to pass a rope in a pattern, a sort of golf with tennis ball, the transportation in equilibrium of the same ball. At the end of the activities, the closing required that all participants, including our guide Adam, were gathered in a circle to discuss and evaluate the past experience, as had gone, how it felt and if we liked, what could be done better or change next time. The same kind of moment of reflection preceded even the preparation of the activities.

This is the key point that differentiates the Outward Bound by a simple adventure camp, the three stages of planning, implementation and evaluation, which belong to the participants and are not only organized and suggested by the trainers. It’s therefore an incentive to reasoning and to experience firsthand the activities planned. As well as an important test of team building which could join more the children and the volunteers in order to repeat and adapt during the summer activities in Pănătău with the kids of the Fountain of Hope.

In this project the role of the young people of Familia AMURTEL already had different experiences of the same type in the past and were able to teach to the EVS volunteers, who were beginners in this experience.

On the second day, the morning was focused on a bike tour, where previously we would have to study the route thanks to a map. The physical conditions of the participants was definitely different, but the organization had clearly set the goal to remain united and go at moderate speed on a path not quite easy, although the difference of altitude wasn’t so pronounced. Some of the kids were not used to bicycle riding, especiallyone that  completed the trip  heroically after falling down at least a dozen times, reaching the base tired and dirty like at the end of a Paris-Roubaix. But never give up, this is the spirit, no matter how many times you fall, the important thing is to get up and continue.

We returned to the base late waiting for the lasts, we ate and then began the afternoon with the organization of the main activity of our outward bound, an excursion with canoes down the river Mures, lasting two days planned to sleep at air open overnight. Difficult undertaking.

In the afternoon then we scheduled the tasks, we were divided into three groups, one for each major activity: the path group, composed of Bogdan, Jone, Priya, Andrei, who was supposed to take care of logistics, how to deal with the path and predict the arrival times at different points of the journey; the group of food, consisting of Florin, Bruna and Ionut mare, responsible for planning of various meals, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, one of which had to be necessarily hot; finally the group of the equipment, with Stefan, Ionut mic, Daniel and Luca, responsible precisely of the materials of the group and the individual equipment of the participants.

So in the evening everything was ready for the adventure of the two following days, according to the calculations would be made 16 km on the first day and 32 the second only of canoe, not very little for beginners.

The next morning, we collected the equipment prepared in the days before and we headed with the vans at the point where we would leave with canoes. Before to try the canoes we run some games and group work with the oars of the canoes and we entered into the water, after a complaint for the water in the opinion of someone too cold. It was like a rite of initiation to the canoes. Thus we enjoyed the first lunch with delicious sandwiches. We now  lacked only the test in the water with canoes. In view of the difficulty for some to head the canoe in the right direction, it was decided to tie together four canoes, two by two.

After the start there were two teams primarily, the so called “Echipa legumelor”, with Stefan, Ionut Mare, Daniel, Andrei and Luca, as dubbed by the same Stefan due to poor readiness of the other members of the group, and the team composed of Bogdan, Priya, Florin, Ionut mic, Bruna and Jone, who took it more calmly. Then there were Iulia and Didi in another canoe, while Adam was controlling the operations.

We arrived in the evening with a wide margin ahead of the scheduled time, so we could make with calm the camp for the night and the dinner. The equipment group has been involved in setting up a sort of tent for sleeping, with excellent results, while the kitchen group prepared a pasta for dinner, unique hot meal provided in the plans and then it was the fire that was fed for all the night by shifts of one hour and two people at the same time to monitor. After dinner and before going to sleep there was the usual musical part, curated by Didi and her guitar in according to the tradition.

The next morning, observed that the fire has been turned on with success, were again prepared the materials to tackle a long day in the water with canoes. It was very hot since early morning.

The greatest threat appeared shortly before the planned stopping point for lunch, a small waterfall that it was probable to overturn canoes. Despite everything seemed ok, a double canoe, that of Jone and Bruna, after the waterfall has embarked too much water and rolled over completely, with all the kids in the water. “Echipa legumelor” however, over all expectations exceeded the obstacle without problems. Unfortunately the equipment that fell into the water was carrying the food for lunch, with the result that falling in water most of it became unusable, especially bread, completely wet. No problem however as our kids have great ability to adapt and we anyway made a lunch more than enough with what was left. After a short break after lunch, we decided to leave knowing that didn’t miss so much at the end and we were once again well in advance. The latest real asperity was near a power plant where we had to go on land and drag with the hands the canoes. Then we were directed for the last stretch that separated us from the point of meeting with the two vans that we would bring us back in Sovata. We spent the last stretch with canoes untied, no more together.

Then we returned to the base in the late afternoon where we performed the last step of the adventure, that was cleaning and putting in order the equipment. With good tiredness then we headed the last dinner and went to sleep soon.

The following day, the last, provided in the morning at first the evaluation of the excursion with canoes. Then we were divided by the same groups of canoes, made three group games in which we applied the same method taught us in those days, we planned, we then executed and finally evaluated the experience. At the end a heavy rain has left us not so much time, so we did the last general assessment on the experience, considering the negative things and positive, before concluding with lunch and leave to Pănătău.

Overall the adventure has been very satisfactory for all, the guys had a great time and have participated with enthusiasm anyway, despite being navigated enough for that kind of experience. They were not spared and they faced the difficulties, challenges and problems of the activities without escape their responsibility, reasoning in a good optical team despite the different characteristics and features of each of them. There were some moments of tension and misunderstanding between them, but it was still good sign, a sign that they kept us and they wanted to perform the proposed activities in the best way possible.

Also the volunteers had a great fun even though we had some initial perplexity about the program and the activities. We have found that this experience has served to cement even further the relations with the young adults of Amurtel, in a good team dynamic. The same guys had undoubtedly taught us something. As well as the experience in general bring us home great ideas for what concerns our voluntary activities, by the method of leading the outdoor activities (planning, execution and evaluation). We also believe that our role has been very balanced, we left space for creativity and enthusiasm of the kids, giving our help immediately when needed. So, in short it was a very positive experience, that Amurtel should continue in our point of view in the coming years, as you never stop learning something!