School camp brings together winners of environmental initiative
The camp was meant as an award, but also as a further environmental leadership training for the active teenagers. The methods used belong to nature and adventure learning, but also included learning by community service. The programme included low ropes and high ropes activities, orienteering, camp fire, night hike and star gazing.
Participants were also motivated to give something back to the Straja community, a place characterized by invaluable natural resources but, at the same time, by irrational development. The teenagers identified the main local ecological issues – deforestation, water scarcity, illegal waste dumps and threats to wildlife – and then worked on their causes. They came up with projects ranging from building animal feeders and creating information panels on nature protection, to producing stickers that urge guests at local hotels to save water and a petition to the mayor. The group signed an official letter asking local authorities to take steps to address all identified issues.
"The camp has a double purpose”, said Barbara Tauscher, leader of WWF Austria’s environmental education programme. “We want to encourage participation and real proactive attitudes in both the local communities and among the pupils after the end of the competition. Thus in the long run we want to establish a cross-national network of nature conservation active young people.”
The four winning teams represented the American College Arcus, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, the Scoala cu clasele I-VIII Palanca, Bacau county, Romania, the OS 'Svetislav Golubovic Mitraljeta' , Batajnica, Serbia and the OŠ Karađorđe Velika Plana, Serbia. Five pupils and one teacher from each school team attended the camp in Straja hosted by the VIATA camp run by the New Horizons Foundation.
About “European Schools for a Living Planet”In 2011/2012 the school environment initiative “European Schools for a Living Planet” was held for the fourth time. Since the beginning 3,000 pupils aged 12 to 17 from eleven European countries put their individual eco-projects into action. The initiatives’ start was given at a one-week pupil-teacher academy in October 2011 in Austria. Via workshops and outdoor actions WWF experts introduced the pupils and their class teachers to the project topics and presented tools for project implementation. The progress of the nature conservation projects could be watched and commented via a publicly accessible interactive weblog. There the school classes kept project diaries, posted pictures and videos about their projects and had the opportunity to exchange experience.
“This was an intense and inspiring year for all participants of the 'European Schools for a Living Planet'”, said Boris Marte, Member of the Board of ERSTE Foundation. “33 teams in nine countries proved once again their commitment and innovative approach to environmental issues of today. Education for sustainable development gives young people competencies and motivation to contribute in an active and responsible way to the future of Europe".
“With ′European Schools for a Living Planet′ we particularly want to show pupils possibilities to get active, to express their opinion in public and to motivate others to take action”, Tauscher said. “For us, the pupils’ overwhelming commitment is the best acknowledgement of the project.”