INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION INTO YOUTH CAMPS
The Ministry of Youth and Sports delivers Youth Camps for young people aged 12-25 each summer from its network of centres and camps. Wanting to add new elements to the camp programme, Wild Awake was contracted to develop an environment programme for camp participants, and to train the camp leaders in delivering the progrmme.
We set out a process for developing and piloting environmental education as a new element in the Youth Camps. The Youth Camps are already well established and popular across Turkey, however, it was felt that they will be enhanced by including a focused programme of environmental education delivered through outdoor learning. Turkey faces several environmental issues, key amongst which is sensitising young people to their environment and how they rely upon it. This is a pre-requisite for tackling environmental issues.
See a short video of the training here.
Each camp is delivered by volunteers who are carefully recruited and trained by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The volunteers act as Camp Leaders and/or Activity Leaders. Camp Leaders take pastoral care of groups of students, accompanying them throughout their stay. Activity Leaders run specific activities.
Several of the camps take place in beautiful natural settings. Currently the natural location of the camps is underused and it is considered a missed opportunity. Furthermore, like many developing countries Turkey faces a range of environmental issues. The Ministry of Youth and Sport wishes to address this by introducing an environmental education programme into the Youth Camps curriculum.
The pilot project had the overall goal of evaluating the viability of delivering environmental learning within the Youth Camps. To achieve this goal we:
Developed a flexible one day programme of environmental learning outdoors.
Trained Camp/Activity Leaders to deliver the programme.
Offered mentoring and support to Camp/Activity Leaders.
Evaluated success and provide recommendations for the future.
1. Developing Environmental Education Curriculum
The first step was to develop a one day curriculum for environmental education. This comprised a flexible series of activities which can be used by Camp/Activity Leaders to deliver environmental education in their camp. The one day programme offered flexibility to be adapted to local environmental circumstances. It is modular so that the programme can be delivered as a single day or over a series of days. The programme is based on:
Me and the local environment – exploring the natural environment around the camp.
Relationships – how does this local environment relate to me; for example exploring the relationship between water and people.
Why does it matter – exploring how people rely on the natural world to meet their needs; for example using eco-footprinting to investigate our fair share.
Taking responsibility – how can we live more responsibly to conserve natural resources now and when returning home.
The activities developed focused on a first-hand experience of the natural world using sensory based learning and appropriate knowledge content. The activities lead students to reflect on how they interact and rely on the natural world, and what actions they can take to conserve it.
The age groups attending the Youth Camps is broad and careful differentiation was needed to be developed into the programme. For the pilot project it will be useful to decide on a narrow age range of the students, for example 12-16 years. The designed programme uses minimal specialist equipment. There are opportunities to link the programme with other areas of camp life such as energy, food and water.
The developed programme is suitable for student groups of 10-15 people. This group size is consistent with good practice and safety in outdoor learning.
2. Training Camp/Activity Leaders
We provided training for Camp/Activity Leaders to deliver the environmental education programme delivered above. The training will lasted three days and cover the following elements:
Planning outdoor learning.
Methods and techniques for outdoor learning.
Games and activities.
Appropriate learning styles.
Risk assessment and safety.
By the end of the training Camp/Activity Leaders were confident to deliver the environmental education programme.
3. Mentoring and Supporting.
To support the delivery of the environmental education programme, we provided mentoring for the team of trained Camp/Activity Leaders. This comprised observing and working with the Camp/Activity Leaders as they delivered the environmental education programme. This helped build the confidence and competence of the Camp/Activity Leaders. Feedback was provided on a daily basis to the Camp/Activity Leaders enabling them to adapt the programme and their own delivery of it.
4. Evaluation and Recommendations.
A short report was written evaluating the success of the pilot project and providing recommendations to further develop the programme in the future. The evaluation was based on observing Camp/Activity Leaders delivering the programme, evaluation of the training workshop and discussions with Camp/Activity Leaders.