Outdoors as a tool – train the trainers

The first part of this-year’s edition of the Train The Trainers (TTT) training has recently ended. Below, you can read the accounts through the eyes of Adam, one of the participants.

The first part of the Train the Trainer – Outdoors as a Tool course was held on the end of August 2021 in Latvia. The second one is scheduled for mid-February 2022 and only both of them together make up the entire training.

For me personally, it was the first meeting with the Erasmus + Program, which meant that I was flying to Latvia with mixed feelings – curiosity and uncertainty. In addition to classic considerations on the occasion of new projects, i.e. what people I will meet there, what exactly will the training look like and whether I will gain anything valuable from the time spent, there were also more trivial ones – e.g. will my English be sufficient to communicate freely with other participants and coaches? The trip to Riga passed surprisingly quickly and pleasantly, and the answers to the above questions were to start appearing soon …

After arriving to the Latvian capital, I had few more hours until the scheduled meeting with the rest of the participants, so I decided to make use of this time and explore the city. I barely left for a while, grabbed some coffee quickly, and it was already time to go to the collection point – I thought that I would visit more on the day I was going to return to Poland.

I will not describe what exactly the training looked like, because in my opinion it works better as a surprise for the future participants. I will focus on my personal impressions that this time has left in me, as well as on the practical elements that I remember the most.

First of all, slightly (but very positively!) shocking was the atmosphere among the participants: very close, open and honest, and to appear really very quickly. I do not like such descriptions myself and I usually don’t feel like overusing these terms, but this time I am writing it with full conviction that they hit the spot. It was really surprising for me. I usually establish contacts with new people very quickly and easily, but I have never had the chance to build such valuable relationships in such a short time. It’s just a few days together, after all. But due to the intensity and nature of the events experienced together, and the proper directions given by coaches, I have to admit that after a week it was really difficult to part. And I know that it is this element of the course, meeting new, interesting people from other countries, but who share similar values, that for me formes the greatest value gained from this training. A value that makes the whole training valuable even if the other elements, such as the substantive quality of individual trainings or the organizational level, were not that great. But they definitely were!

Writing about the substantive value of TTT, it is impossible not to stop for a moment on the concept of Scale of Cooperation, which was a kind of theoretical core around which we moved throughout the week, using it to discuss individual tasks, attitudes and changes occurring in groups – both those with whom we meet during our work with young people, as well as those that took place in our course group. This is not a place for a broader description and reflection on SoC, I will only write that I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with this method – it’s just worth it.
One of the most interesting things that I noticed during the course was the skillful interweaving of theory and practice; experiencing and analyzing; being a participant and trainer. Especially finding myself in the role of a participant, after years of working as a volunteer dealing with the organization of events for others, allowed me to re-understand what a participant may feel, what to fear and what to feel aversion to. I consider this a very important element of the TTT, which I personally appreciate very much.

When it comes to practical classes, it was definitely impossible to complain about boredom. Although I have had the opportunity to try many extreme activities in my life and they were not new to me, I really appreciate how skillfully and interestingly they were organized during the training. Virtually every day we faced challenges that required from us as individuals and as a group to climb (sometimes literally) to the top of our abilities. Importantly, we could later talk about each such challenge and discuss its purpose, and possible modifications, depending on our needs as coaches.

The last element that I would like to mention is the team of trainers – who, just like the participants, come from different countries, organizations and have different experiences, skills and characteristics. This diversity meant that we had the opportunity to get to know a variety of approaches, methods and tools, which was of great value to me and allowed me to look at my own style of working with a group from a slightly different angle. In my opinion, commitment, passion, friendly approach and willingness to share my own knowledge and experience constitute a clamp that binds TTT into such a good a valuable and complete whole.

To sum up – although I really hope this is just the beginning of a longer adventure – the TTT course is a really good training, from which I got more than I thought was possible. An amazing opportunity to broaden both competency and social horizons, which in my opinion means that EVERYONE should experience something like this.

The report is published as part of the dissemination of the results and promotion of the project “Outdoors as a tool – train the trainers” financed by the Erasmus + program.