Each of us has encountered the maxim that true knowledge derives from the immediate experience, not the experience of others. That is why we at Cedar strive to encourage the children and young people in our centers to gain knowledge and develop skills from their own experiences. We motivate them to go out of their comfort zone, to challenge their opportunities and to make new discoveries about the things that excite them.
That was exactly the purpose of the first experiential learning camp we had at the foot of Stara Planina mountain. The children and young people without disabilities from our family centers in Kazanlak embarked on a real mountain adventure in the heart of Bulgaria – Uzana. For one week they participated in various activities organized by our friends from the Association “Natural Explorers”.
Through fun group games the young people had the opportunity to learn more about the features of the Stara Planina region, as well as the necessary equipment and equipment for the hiking and stay in the mountain. They learned to navigate with a map and a compass, and they also understood what the “nording of the map” means. They also remembered which natural objects and celestial bodies can help them understand where they are.
After the training sessions, the time has come for the “big challenges”, as most of them called them – the climbing of two of the peaks in the area – Mount Korita and Mount Ispolin and a night out in the tents. These adventures placed the young people in front of many challenges and not just physical ones. In addition to the tiring climb and the fear of sleeping under the open sky, they faced the challenges of group work – meeting the needs and wishes of the whole group, not just their own.
Despite all the difficulties, however, they managed to overcome their fears and climb the peaks, thanks to their mutual support, desire and tenacity. Their journey was also an inward one, towards themselves. They’ve set goals, beyond the limits of their daily lives, understood more about themselves and others, gained courage and self-esteem. And most importantly, they supported each other and showed sympathy and concern towards their friends.
Survival camps are part of the project “Live it to learn it”, funded by International Women’s Club Sofia. The project aims to motivate children and young people to learn and develop themselves without limiting the knowledge within the school classroom. The basis of camps is the learning experience through experience where participants have the opportunity to make their own discoveries and experiments instead of listening or reading about the experience of others. In addition, they analyze the experience and thus discover unsuspected personal abilities that can help them improve themselves further.