Experiential learning in the mountains
Experiential learning in the mountains is the topic of our next meeting of Vitamin N. The date is May 2nd, the time – 18.30, and the venue – Sofia University’s conference room. Come and experience one of the most fun ways to get Vitamin N. The meeting is part of the events in European Youth Week, 1–7 May, and aims to inform as many young people as possible about the importance of connection with nature.
Learning through experience, experiential or experimental learning is a methodology through which we learn from experience in an organised and guided way. According to Wikipedia: “Learning through experience … is changing one’s behaviour as a result of practical application of the conclusions one has made after the analysis of one’s personal experience… ”.
For us an important element of the whole picture is “being outdoors”. Yes, in our experience as Natural Explorers, being outdoors, in the mountains, is that part of learning through experience that brings magic. We do it in the city too, in large and small halls, because we know that we carry nature in ourselves. But in the mountains, in the meadow, in the forest, under the stars – this is the environment in which we are most open to ourselves, the people around us and the process that is happening to us. When our feet are standing directly on the ground, our noses smell the fragrances, our lungs take in the freshness of the air, our eyes enjoy the beauty, and our hands can touch the life around us – then the experience is complete and we are closer to ourselves. And learning happens naturally. Because it’s in the game. And it’s shared.
In order to discover and acquire new skills and knowledge, to get to know ourselves and the world, we need to get out of what we know, the so-called comfort zone. Analysis and reflection (sharing and observing) of our fresh experiences provide us with the ability to learn in any situation. And the practical application of what we have learned allows us to test it. And as a wise proverb says – a one manifests in the way one interacts. Therefore, learning through experience happens in a group.
Through games we create an experience that contains a challenge – carefully calibrated, so as to get us out of our comfort zone without scaring us. The challenge provides us with experience. Then we consciously look at this experience through our emotions and thoughts (time for analysis and reflection) to understand what happened to us. We come to conclusions, ideas, insights into ourselves and the world. We end the cycle with the application of this new knowledge. And we are together with the mountains.
Experiential learning integrates our thinking, feeling and volition as basic psychological processes with our physical body in a personal challenge beyond the boundaries of our everyday life, and this leads us to the zone of self-knowledge, courage, personal abilities we didn’t know we have, compassion and mutual help, rediscovery of values and personal improvement.
The ‘Mountain, I Love You!’ campaign combines our mission to help young people have a stronger and permanent connection to nature through experiential learning in the mountains and our social activeness through fundraising for camps for children and youths who don’t know the mountains yet.