Presentations and Authors

Wednesday 4.10.2023


Kaisa Pietilä & Miia Riihimäki: Fight-Flight Response and Emotion Regulation

The fight or flight response is our body's natural response to stressful and frightening situations. This workshop will explore how we respond psychophysically to stress and the challenges this phenomenon can pose in Adventure Education and Adventure Therapy. The aim is to better understand what is happening in our clients and ourselves and to learn how to create safety in ourselves and in our relationships.

Kaisa Pietilä is a cognitive psychotherapist and educating psychotherapist with a long history of outdoor learning, adventure education, and special education. Currently, Kaisa works in her private practice. Miia Riihimäki is an occupational therapist specialized in adolescents and childrens’ rehabilitation, adventure, and outdoor educator and works currently as a lecturer in Adventure and Outdoor Education, Humak UAS.

Iira Tiitta: Harmony Within: Navigating Environmental Emotions with Solution-Focused

This workshop explores the link between the environment and emotions. Participants learn solution-focused methods to address these emotions in personal and professional contexts. They gain insights into various environmental emotions and their causes, while developing skills to set goals, utilize resources, and create positive action plans. Effective communication and self-care techniques are emphasized, fostering understanding and managing conflicts. The workshop equips participants to navigate environmental emotions and prioritize well-being.

Iira Tiitta is an experienced educator, coach, and researcher. Her passion and research focus on the health impacts of the environment and climate change. Iira holds a degree in nursing and a Master's degree in health sciences, which brings profound expertise to her work. In her doctoral research, Iira examines the possibility of systematically incorporating climate change into the training of nurses. Iira's resume showcases a diverse range of experience in lecturing both internationally and in various educational institutions in Finland. She has been able to share her knowledge and influence a wide range of audiences.

Sanna Jääskeläinen & Kaija Lackström: Nuotta coaching at the Finnish Youth Centres

Come and experience how we work with NEET youngsters at the Finnish Youth Centres. Nuotta coaching offers young people individual and group support and provides tools for work between the young person and their own youth worker. Coaching is always planned individually to meet each group’s objectives and wishes. The main impact for young people is to strengthen their self-reliance, social skills, everyday coping skills and a healthy lifestyle. The immediate impact is to experience the importance of physical activities, regular meals and rhythm of day and night. Nuotta coaching is part of a social empowerment service package funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Nuotta coaching has been organised at nine national youth centres since 2010. The service is free of charge for young people (from 13 to 29 years) involved in youth workshop activities and youth outreach work and for their youth workers.

Sanna Jääskeläinen, community educator, works as a Nuotta coach at Hyvärilä Youth Centre.
Kaija Lackström, community educator and wilderness quide, works as a Nuotta coach at Villa Elba Youth Centre.

Nina Waaramäki & Gun Hoikkala: Chilla Ute: mindfulness and a stronger nature connection for youngsters

Chilla Ute (En. Unwind Outdoors) is a concept that is designed to make it easy for different groups to spend a relaxing and/or energizing time outdoors together and to inspire individuals and groups to spend more time outdoors. The Chilla Ute-material consists of 36 different activities that are easy for the group leader to perform with the group and most activities do not require any special equipment. Four years ago we started providing Chilla Ute-activities for youngsters in youth workshops (fi. Nuorisotyöpaja) and upper secondary education. In the exercises used with youth groups we have focused on mindfulness, reflection, empowering group exercises and positive psychology. We usually also incorporate some outdoor cooking in every Chilla Ute-meeting. In this workshop we will present our methods and materials. The purpose is to get a hands-on experience of activities, in order to discuss the concept and its effect on well-being and nature connection.    Nina Waaramäki and Gun Hoikkala have extensive experience working with youngsters in the field of health promotion and outdoor education.

Oral Presentations

Tomás Aylward: Making the unfamiliar familiar; using technology to help build active connections to the more-than-human world for youth with intellectual disabilities

In a modern society of the Global North, more time in life is spent indoors than ever before. This has contributed to a weakened connection to the more-than-human world across society (Blenkinsop et al., 2020). This has implications for the decision-making and actions of global citizens when it comes to addressing the realities of a climate crisis. Persons with an intellectual disability (PiD) are global citizens too and are equally affected by the climate crisis. Developing their connection to the more-than-human world is in their interest both from the perspective of their well-being and their capacity to understand and act in response to the existential threat of this crisis (Aylward, 2020). Using handheld digital devices familiar to young PiD can assist them in exploring the juxtapose position of novelty and familiarity in learning outdoors (North et al., 2022). This presentation illustrates examples from a community of outdoor learners with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.    

Tomás Aylward is a lecturer in the School of Health and Social Sciences at Munster Technological University (MTU) on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. A lecturer in outdoor learning and Adapted Physical Activity at the Kerry Campus for 23 years, Tomás is the programme director for a BA in Outdoor Learning. He has been a member of EOE since 2013 and is the current chairperson of the EOE board.

Jakob Frimann Thorsteisson: Outdoor leisure, tourism and education: What future for young people connection to popular destinations

Tourism and leisure have become integral to daily life due to increased disposable income and leisure time. Accessibility to tourism and outdoor leisure activities varies and depends among other things on the individual’s socioeconomic situation. In Iceland there is some uncertainty about the relationship between socioeconomic factors and outdoor leisure, tourism and education opportunities. Many nations have a long history of social tourism which refers to tourism and leisure activities that are subsidized in order to facilitate more equal access to travelling for different social groups. The study aims to examine the influence of socioeconomic factors on children's participation in tourism and outdoor leisure activities in Iceland. The analysis builds on survey data from a 2017-2018 (Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children), in which 6717 children and adolescents responded to a questionnaire regarding their outdoor activities and visits to popular destinations in Iceland.    

Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson ( is an assistant professor lecturer and doctoral student at the University of Iceland, School of Education. He received a B.Ed. degree from the Iceland College of Education in 1993, and a master’s degree in curriculum studies and pedagogy from the University of Iceland in 2011. Þorsteinsson has worked extensively in schools and leisure centres, for example in youth clubs and the scouts, and worked with professional leadership in compulsory schools, as well as actively participating in various social and civil work. His research interests include outdoor education, leisure studies and pedagogy, the development of teaching methods at tertiary level, and the structure of education. ORCID ID:

Zan Rode & Gregor Torkar: Using iNaturalist in education: Lessons learned 

ICT-enhanced citizen science, like iNaturalist, is increasingly used to achieve these goals. iNaturalist is widely recognised as a great tool for biodiversity researchers, outdoor educators and citizen scientists due to its ease of use and robust community of users. After a thorough literature review, we designed and implemented activities, with iNaturalist application in various educational contexts – 2 in primary and 1 in tertiary level of education. We have found that iNaturalist was used through two main teaching methods – BioBlitz events and as an integrated part of the course as fieldwork, project or herbarium activity. Feedback from students and their educators, participating in our activities was positive, regarding their increased knowledge of biodiversity and a desire to learn more about species, they did not know existed all around them.  

Žan Rode, junior researcher at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, research focused on using ICT in biology education. Gregor Torkar, PhD, is an associate professor of biological education in the Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in biological didactics and environmental education.

Riikka Puhakka & Paavo Heinonen: Effects of a hiking trip on adolescents’ perceived well-being – comparison with a drama workshop

While the positive effects of outdoor adventures are recognized, it is still unclear whether similar benefits could be achieved with other activities, such as arts-based activities. This study based on survey and interview data examines how participation in an outdoor adventure affects Finnish 15- to 16-year-old adolescents’ perceived well-being. The intervention group (n=16) participated in a three-day hiking trip in a national park and the control group (n=17) in a drama workshop inside a camp centre. Both groups perceived positive effects on mood and highlighted the benefits on social well-being and group cohesion. However, based on the qualitative findings, outdoor adventures include specific elements that support adolescents’ possibilities to be themselves, achieve the feeling of mastery, and collaborate with others. Spending time in a novel natural setting under simple conditions and participating in challenging physical activities result in various well-being benefits.    

Riikka Puhakka, PhD, works as Academy Research Fellow at University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in Lahti. In the NATUREWELL project (2019–2024), she studies how outdoor recreation affects urban youth’s nature connection, well-being, and health. Paavo Heinonen works as teacher in outdoor sports and adventure education at the Finnish Sports Institute in Vierumäki.

Juha Nieminen: Ideas about nature in Finnish youth work 

The presentation rises from two kinds of soil. First, nature has been one of the most important environments of youth work, and by analysing the ways of understanding nature, youth work and its pedagogical aims can be characterized. Secondly, the ways of understanding nature and the attitude towards nature are crucial for the education of our time. The knowledge of the historical heartwood of youth work helps to understand the sapwood that lives in our days. The aim of the presentation is to analyse the ideas about the nature in Finnish youth work after the Second World War until the 1960s. The research material consists of youth work textbooks, which were used in the training of teachers, youth workers and volunteer youth leaders. In the publications, we can find both verbal and visual conceptions of nature, which lay foundations for pedagogy. The findings are interpreted in the theoretical framework of nature perceptions, which helps to identify different ways of relating to nature.    

Juha Nieminen is a university teacher of youth research and youth work in the Tampere University in Finland.

Thursday 5.10.2023


Huck Middeke: What is enough when y*our survival is at stake? A practical "Sinneswandel"....

A little wandering called "Sinneswandel". Wandering the walk and talk. With myself and with participants. A wandering to [y*our] roots, realities and priorities, as well as a shortcut to the shared common ground under y*our feet and wheels. An expedition to the edges of assumed (but busted!) comfort zones, and a sober look at strategic possibilities, tools and questions. What's enough to survive? How do living, surviving and thriving actually work in nature, if we consider "us nature" to be the only reality on earth? A walk with exercises, games, knowledge, wisdom, skills and surprises    

Sustainability and survival enthusiast, explorer and communicator of high level sustainability, deep nature connection and optimism, activist and strategist for change

Siina Leinikka & Sanna Järvensivu: No-nature-walk

In this workshop we will present one of the activities that were developed as a part of action research project "NOW! From anxiety to young people's environmental-political agency" (Tampere University, 2020-2023). The activities were a part of the program of adventurous nature-based school camps, which were organized for the ninth graders (15 years old) at Marttinen Youth Centre. The activity opens new perspectives to observe and think about what belongs to nature and what does not: How do human-made things affect nature and animals? Are there some actions I could take? How does noise affect you? What is the importance of quiet places?
What kind of place do you enjoy? How long time does it take for a tin can to decompose? What could I do to make nature and animals to feel better?
Siina Leinikka is the main designer of the school camp activities of the NOW! -project and works as an instructor at Marttinen Youth Centre. She is biology and geography teacher and youth and community instructor.
Sanna Järvensivu works as head of youth work at Marttinen Youth Centre. She is community educator and environmental educator.

Mira Pyökkilehto:  Walk of senses: Metsäkartano´s tool for finding place and strenght from nature

Walk of senses is Metsäkartano’s tool for connecting with nature. This is one of Metsäkartano’s oldest programs. The core idea has been developing throughout years via our learning process and improvement. To be able to realize the potential of individual's possibilities to have an influence for nature, we need to learn to respect and honor the nature around us. Before this is possible we need to have a connection – a feeling that I am part of this big beautiful picture. Nature gets new meaning, and individual can find significance when realizing how much we can influence for nature around us. Especially for young people, this is remarkable way for realization of how affective, remarkable they are. And how they have a possibility to create their future, for what they see is important.

Mira Pyökkilehto is an environmental educator and nature connection guide, who has over a decade of experience of using camp based form of pedagogy at Metsäkartano. Mira’s experience is to help create connections between young people and nature, and she thinks that it might the most important thing to do nowadays. At this moment Mira is working as a program service coordinator at Metsäkartano.

Miia Riihimäki & Eeva Pekanheimo: Building a sustainable world - keeping hope alive and learning new professional skills through bilingual experiential education

The workshop is based on the project Building a sustainable world through community education, carried out by Humak University of Applied Sciences (Humak UAS) and funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland. The project includes a 25-ECTS bilingual study module for Ukrainian education professionals in Finland. The objective of the project is to provide Ukrainian teachers with an opportunity to learn to utilize experiential education and adventure and outdoor education, either when integrating into Finnish workplaces or when returning to their home country, in order to empower children and other groups as well as strengthen their resilience. In addition to this, the project and the study module have been conducted bilingually, where English and Finnish have been used side by side to support language learning and integration into society. In the workshop, the authors will share the latest results and demonstrate some of the bilingual experiential methods used in project    

Miia Riihimäki, Senior Lecturer in Adventure and Outdoor Education, Humak UAS. Riihimäki has been working as a facilitator of the Humak UAS project Building a sustainable world through community education.
Eeva Pekanheimo, Senior Lecturer, Language Teacher, Humak UAS. Pekanheimo has worked appr. 20 years with both spoken and signed languages (teaching, translating, interpreting,) and has a long experience of applying activity-based learning and outdoor education in language teaching.

Valtteri Liimula: Being here. Sharing, feeling and exploring why we are here. Time for thought, developing ideas in small groups and sharing in a larger one

Im planning to participate by arriving at wednesday and staying full time after that. My workshop could be held from thursday onwards and can go on for multiple sessions if there is room and need in the program. 90 minutes and 180minutes are both fine and just define the shape and form of the session. I aim for good discussions based on reflecting experiences from the conference and working field and building ideas from that point forward.   

Happy-Go-Lucky father of three treehugger from Turku, Finland. Doing my thing with adventure education twist mostly with young adults (NEET). Bachelor of Social Services with ropework, paddling and camp activities.

 Nea Törnwall: Naturkraft: Empowering families through low threshold nature activities

At Folkhälsan we have designed a concept to inspire families to meet up in nature. The structure and content of these gatherings are based on salutogenic principles, such as the sense of coherence theory, feelings of relatedness, resilience and empowering activities based on positive psychology to inspire families to meet in nature for low threshold activities. Furthermore, there is a sustainability aspect to spending time in nature in early childhood, as it is an important period for developing nature connectedness and future sustainable lifestyles. However, nowadays actions are often needed to encourage families with small children to be active outdoors. In this workshop we will present our methods and materials. Participants will be exposed to strength-targeting activities of a nature journey. The purpose is to get a hands-on experience of activities, in order to discuss the concept and its effect on wellbeing and nature connection.    

Nea Törnwall works for a better future for children adolescents and families thru our organization Folkhälsan which is the largest Swedish-speaking organization in Finland that works for better health and quality of life. Folkhälsan is both a service producer and expert organization, as well as a citizen movement.

Oral Presentations

Hanna Loboda: Foraging for a sustainable tomorrow

While conducting research on outdoor education in Poland, I observed that foraging can be a very important aspect of this sphere. During participatory observation of the forest kindergarten group I drew the children's attention to the plants around us. I mentioned their healing properties and possible culinary usage. Sometimes we used them to create simple toys or everyday utensils. I observed that the children's attention to the surrounding plants, as well as the care for them, increased. The fear of previously unknown plants has decreased. Through spontaneously emerging discussions, they increased their knowledge of the supply chain of exotic products and its impact on the environment. They then taught their parents how to use local herbs on a daily basis. Including the foraging education in the curriculum may be a very valuable solution in the era of climate crisis and can contribute to both reducing children`s and youth fear, as well as their future consumer choices.    

PhD student interested in outdoor education, climate crisis, ecotheraphy. Forest kindergarten teacher, occupational therapist and educator. Phytotherapist and horticultural therapist connecting people back with nature.

Heather Prince: Developing a new place-based curriculum in schools in North-west England to build a more sustainable future through outdoor, environmental and experiential learning

Place-based learning develops skills, knowledge and understanding of local as well as global environmental and sustainability issues. This new curriculum integrates outdoor, environmental and experiential learning into a mandatory ‘national’ curriculum, which has presented challenges for some teachers and educators. This presentation will describe and evaluate the ways in which this curriculum is supporting children and young people to become active citizens in their communities for a sustainable future, and to increase their wellbeing and lifelong opportunities. It will outline the multi-partnership approach including knowledge exchange projects with the University of Cumbria and ‘powerful projects’ with teachers and trainee teachers to enhance and augment engagement and confidence in teaching and learning outdoors. It will also illustrate how a theory of change model has been created and how the level of success might be evaluated through an impact and evaluation framework.    

Heather Prince is Professor of Outdoor and Environmental Education at the University of Cumbria, UK. She is interested in pedagogic practice of outdoor learning in schools and higher education, adventure and sustainability. She has been working with the Eden Project and Cumbria County Council on developing place-based, outdoor curricula and loves exploring local and wild places.

Tommaso Reato: The forest is like me. Giving voice to uncertainty and open possibilities through nature based writing practices

Complexity and uncertainty affect our society and education has to support students in navigate these challenging times. However, educational languages ​​often appear simplistic and flat. On the other hand, as suggested by Ricoeur and Ingold, the languages ​​of art seem appropriate for giving voice to the complexity of human experience in and with the world. Starting from these premises, the present study explores the interplay between creative writing practices and outdoor experience through the analysis of the writing process of some short poems, composed in natural places by adolescents students, in the context of a participatory action research. The inquiry was developed in a technical-vocational secondary school in Italy, through a phenomenological-art based approach and using students' texts, interviews and focus groups as data. The results describe different ways of nature based writing and show the role of physical and social context in enhance the creative process.    

Tommaso Reato is a Phd student in Pedagogical Sciences at Padua University, Italy.

Stina Bang: CONSUMPTION CRAZE Outdoor environmental orienteering game for youth

The subject of our oral presentation is an outdoor environmental program aimed for secondary level youth. The program consists of an electronic orienteering game based on UN‘s 12th sustainable development goal. The program has equally been used as an educating tool for teachers, staff and leaders within the scholar system. The topic of the program is dedicated to sustainable future. It evolves around the awareness of various ecological footprints and is destined to empower participants to take sustainable decisions in life and raise their awareness of the power they withhold as individuals to have positive impact on life on earth. The main goal of the program is to shine a light on our own consumption habits and how they impact our surroundings and the earth. The fieldwork of the game is aimed to increase our understanding of the term sustainability, to motivate participants to have a positive impact on environmental based issues and give them tools to take action and be the change.    

The author is a great outdoors enthusiast and a teacher with unconditional faith in the powers of outdoor learning.

Ruth Ennis: Smugglers Tales - Creativity

An outdoor education programme of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) and campcraft sessions to make a creative setting to learn about the history of smuggling in Kinsale. Developed as part of the Creative Ireland, it aims to give people aged 0 to 24 years the opportunity for creative expression. Ten YouthReach students took part in this programme. Part of the Outdoor Education programme for Youth Reach Cork ETB and based on a Dramatourgy model, sessions in EAL and Campcraft to create Smugglers Tales. Creativity is the freedom to take risks, to use imagination to create fun, wonder and happiness. A way of thinking that can be explored through five channels. Curiosity, Imagination, Resilience, Collaboration, and Discipline. All personal qualities that will support people as they navigate their way through life. The students created an 8-minute movie, capturing the essence of the project. They were the interviewers, interviewees, behind the camera and editors of the movie.    

Ruth Ennis, BA Outdoor Learning. Co ordinator of Outdoor Education for YouthReach Projects Cork ETB.

Dana Fedorchuk: ""As Within, So Without: Systems Change for World Peace""

Cultivating our inner peace as educators and human beings is our greatest “thriving” mechanism.  In accordance with Otto Scharmer’s Theory U for systems change; deep listening, deep terrain, and healing the gaps which disconnect us from our nature are our most promising means of re-connection.  May our disruption become transformation as we move forward together into the future.
Through developing a practice of daily nature rituals with my Grade 2 class during challenging times, we intentionally attuned to our human nature on a daily basis. We sought refuge from the downward spiral among the leaves and changing seasons.  We interrogated extractive practices and colonial doctrine; so deeply embodied and embedded that we didn’t know they could be shed or needed shedding. We found within ourselves through the green lens of our daily ritual, a return to our grounding among the roots, and the joy of emergence and flow.

Dana Fedorchuk, M.Ed is a full-time teacher of grade 2 and writing projects at Calgary's Renert School where her students achieve, believe, make choices, and go on daily pondwalks in all seasons, as a ritual of re-centring and connection.  She is working on her inner peace as a journey to share peace with others.

Mark Leather & Jakob Frimann Thorsteisson: The Place Continuum. Taking Action on the Climate Crisis by Nurturing Our Connection to the Planet

The urgency of our climate crisis demands immediate action and a fundamental shift in our relationship with the planet. As humans, our connection to nature is not only crucial for our well-being but also plays a pivotal role in addressing environmental challenges. In this presentation, we explore the relevance and efficacy of place-based education, and consider the finer nuances that place-responsiveness, place-consciousness, and place-empathy can bring as integral components of outdoor education practice on a 'place continuum'. We argue that fostering a deep emotional connection to the Earth, shared with others, is essential and that the place continuum provides educators with a practical conceptualisation to empower individuals, groups, and communities to take informed action and become catalysts for change in the face of the climate crisis. The ideas presented ‘stands on the shoulders of giants' Tuan (1977), Gruenewald, (2003), Wattchow & Brown (2011), and Mannion & Lynch, (2016).    

Dr Mark Leather is an Associate Professor of Education at Plymouth Marjon University (UK) and Guest Professor at the University of Iceland. Jakob Thorsteinsson is an Adjunct Professor and PhD student at the University of Iceland

Friday 6.10.2023


Jussi Muittari: How to develop outdoor decision-making skills – Practical applications for using decision-making card

Humak University of applied sciences has developed decision-making cards since 2015 for helping Outdoor and Adventure education practitioners to make better decisions in challenging field situations. In this practical workshop, attendee will learn how to use Hiking card in different situations in real situations. In this Workshop, after learning how to use hiking card, Humak Adventure education 2nd year students will create real case situations for attendees who try to make justified decisions based on their own knowledge and hiking card. This workshop requires outdoor clothing suitable for the weather and approx. 3 km hike.    

Jussi Muittari has worked as IFMGA mountain guide and a lecturer of outdoor adventure education for 13 years, and has been one of the developers for different decision-making cards.

Annika Schlüter & Stella Lossy: Sustainability management in outdoor education organisations (Grüne Wanze AG - BSJ Marburg)

How do we encourage sustainable life choices without pointing fingers? Can we improve the planets health as well as ours and even have fun with it? The Grüne Wanze AG (Green Bug Working Group) at BSJ Marburg is striving to nudge employees and employers towards greener work practices. In constant contact to our colleagues and the executive board of the BSJ Marburg, experiences were gathered. While some of our projects have already shown success, such as negotiating for a public transport ticket for all employers, others are still in progress. Networking and educating ourselves and our co-workers has been part of this work, just as much as creating playful challenges, making fun of ourselves in small theater pieces and celebrating a vegan Christmas Party. The working group would like to share experiences, strategies, accomplishments and limits of this work. Exchanging ideas of your work practice, as well as ideas for the future of sustainability management will be welcome here.    

Grüne Wanze (Green Bug Working Group) The Grüne Wanze AG (Green Bug Working Group) at BSJ Marburg aims at encouraging greener work practices, focusing on transportation, energy consumption, material and food.

Nik Elvy: Food, Folk Tales and Famine

Food is a useful but neglected lens through which to view what we do outdoors. Food poverty is an ever increasing problem in the UK. How does food poverty affect outdoor practice and access to the outdoors for young people? How can outdoor practitioners use food, cooking and sharing to explore these issues for understanding and inclusion? Using research, outdoor practice and art, we will explore these questions through a communal outdoor cooking workshop.    

Nik Elvy is an outdoor practitioner and artist (founder of Curious School of the Wild) who works with communities in areas of rural deprivation in Cornwall, UK. Nik has extensively researched food poverty and food cultures in outdoor education. Nik has lived experience of food poverty and has campaigned for better understanding and inclusion in Outdoor Education for those young people experiencing poverty.

Timo Haaksluoto: Fishbowl conversation over the topic of how to cope with the future in the context of adventure education (indoor 90 min.)


Seppo JA Karppinen: Place-based Learning in the Forest – from traditions to sustainability

A forest is a great instrument and foundational place for outdoor experiential learning to learn biology, climate changes, ethical and esthetic subjects and history.  A green forest reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which makes us feel calm and relaxed. It has holistic therapeutic effects on our mind, body and spirit. Place-based learning activities as an experiential learning approach need to be planned, designed and guided specifically to aid children and adolescent students in understanding how the place and its spirit interact with the content in the course and to incorporate the student’s lived experiences as part of the learning process. The workshop introduces a place-based learning approach, and its experiences of both teaching and learning in the forest.  Our goal is to reflect historical beliefs and practices within modern society. Learning from the past wisdoms, spirits and deities of water, wind and earth might help us to behave sustainably, and cope with future challenges. Welcome to an Outdoor journey into a Finnish forest at Metsäkartano Youth Centre. Please, outdoor warm clothes!

Jari Korkalainen: Walk and talk - About Metsäkartano and the Finnish Youth Centre network


Oral Presentations

Ilkka Ratinen: Reflections on sustainable futures in outdoor education

Imagining a sustainable future is a key sustainability skill. In the European Union, this skill is also recognised in the recent GreenComp guidelines. In this presentation, I will open up Finnish people's imagination of sustainability and draw conclusions about the potential of outdoor education to contribute to building a sustainable future. The data is based on a population survey, (N=2006), which has been statistically analysed. I consider outdoor education from the perspective that it provides a diverse learning environment and helps the youth understand the interactions between the Earth systems and build a strong relationship with our planet. Education that fosters a relationship with nature promotes a desire for the future and should be the subject of ambitious efforts.    

Professor of sustainability and outdoor education.

Kaisa Pietilä: Nervous System, Stress and Coping in Outdoor Adventure Education

What is fight-or-flight response and how it might be activated in stressful life events and circumstances? How can educators help their clients (and as well as themselves) to regulate nervous system and to find adaptive coping skills.    

Kaisa Pietilä is psychotherapy trainer and supervisor with a long history of outdoor learning, adventure education and special education. Currently Kaisa works in her private practice and carries out experiential learning courses in outdoors and online. Website:

Gavin MacKenzie: Between places: critical questions for place-based educator in an age of mobility

The networked spaces that characterise contemporary societies, meshed with the mobility of the modern educator, provoke critical questions around educators sense of self (in place) and the skills and knowledge required to enact place-based approaches to outdoor environmental education. Weaving together the autobiographical narrative of the displaced educator, this presentation will explore the challenges and opportunities for educator's seeking to enliven place based approaches within their newly emerging landscapes. This presentation will position the role of education as a practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and the educator as transgressors in seeking to transform self and society (Hill & Brown, 2014). Looking through the lens of an educator moving to a new place, this chapter will situate questions of socio-environmental justice and action as central to the development of place-based approaches.    

Gavin Mackenzie is lecturer in outdoor studies at the University of Cumbria. He is particularly interested in pedagogic practice, sustainability and the re-visioning of education to address contemporary challenges.

Alessandro Bortolotti: Learning out of the classroom: a survey of school and pre-school provision in Northern Italy

Research is essential to better appreciate the provision of Outdoor Learning (OL) at school. This work aims to answer to this call and to investigate the variety of formal outdoor experiences organized by schools and kindergartens in Northern Italian contexts. The OL provision will be monitored in several Italian schools and kindergartens, using the same methods and instruments as the surveys conducted in Scotland during the summers of 2006 and 2014, and the current one in 2023. The research design is based on the idea that teachers themselves can provide both quantitative and qualitative information on formal outdoor activities. The main question of the survey is: what are the opportunities offered by outdoor experiences for different types of learning, within different disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas of learning? This survey aims to collect data from both pre-schools and primary schools in Northern Italy on the duration of outdoor learning events, locations, objectives,    

As a professor, since 2007 Alessandro carries out his investigations within the fields of Special Education, Outdoor Learning, and Physical Education. His work regards experiential learning programs in both formal and non-formal educational settings, focussing on their sociocultural values, holistic development, and inclusive approach. He was involved in Erasmus+ projects both in Outdoor Learning (GOaL: Go Out and Learn) and Traditional Motor Games (BRIDGE). Since the Academic Year 2021/22 he's Director of the Outdoor Education Postgraduate course and research Centre, and Dean of Sport, at the University of Bologna.

Karel Sterckx: Pathways to Resurrection  

Adventure Education can provide an environment for people to experience their natural abilities and strengths; how they can contribute to society and renew their relationship with nature. While working collaboratively with the group; developing awareness of how one manages feelings and creating supportive social networks. Regular participation in group activities in the outdoors, in which connection with nature is consciously and actively provided, and about place attachment, supports one’s feeling of wellbeing. This, on its turn, benefits one’s resilience and attitude towards nature and the living environment: from separation, to one of trust in life and being one with nature. This is what is called nowadays “Regenerative Leadership”. We can create a network of fractal patterns of resurrection. First we train adventure educators and youth workers. They can train their youth and their youth can develop groups activities in the outdoors in their places.    

International Wilderness Guide, Outdoors Leadership Development Instructor, Nature Inspired Personal Development Coach and Social Worker Karel Sterckx guides people on Self-Development adventures in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Sometimes as a freelancer, sometimes as a volunteer. Sometimes in comfortable settings, sometimes in extreme wilderness settings. He developed policies for three Belgian organisations to work towards active citizenship, local solidarity and self-sustainability.

Verity Howell: The Feminisation of Nature: dualisms, domination and destruction

Climate change is a pressing issue and gender inequalities continue to present global problems. Climate crises are increasing and with them comes an increase in gender-based violence. Nature has a long history of being depicted as female: a caring Mother Nature, as beautiful virgin landscapes available for conquerors to dominate, or as untamed wilderness to be overcome by strong, masculine men. Individuals and communities that are viewed as closer to nature are feminised and thus viewed as inferior. There are conceptual ties between the domination of both women and nature. This presentation explores how societal constructions of women and nature may have facilitated their exploitation by examining the problematic positioning of nature as female within a patriarchal context and how this conceptualisation may contribute to environmental degradation. The intersectionality of these issues creates complexities in providing resolutions, but it is vital that these solutions are explored.    

Verity is a student at University of Cumbria undertaking a Masters in Outdoor and Experiential Learning. She previously completed an undergraduate degree in Outdoor Adventure Education from University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth.

TA Loeffler: We Must Go Quite Handy: How COVID-19, the Climate Crisis, and Aging Changed my Outdoor Education Practice for the Future.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland English, defines handy as “ready to hand, near at hand, or nearby.” There have been definitive changes to my teaching because of the influences of the pandemic, climate crisis, and my aging body. These changes, although not initially welcomed, are a route to a more sustainable outdoor teaching practice rooted in “handy” or the nearby. I will share key findings from my reflection and analysis on these changes through the scholarship of narrative inquiry and autoethnography. I will highlight the many challenges in adapting outdoor pedagogy to the requirements of pandemic risk management, the climate crisis, and my aging body. Themes of heaviness, isolation, groundlessness, and joyous togetherness along with an enormous sense of heightened responsibility and possibility will be explored. Additionally, elements of innovative teaching practice that emerged during this time will be shared and connected to other studies related to the concept of “handy.”    

Dr. TA Loeffler is a full professor at Memorial University. TA is a unique combination of outdoor educator, researcher, and photographer who brings a diversity of experience and expertise to everything. In 2020, TA was named to the “Canada’s 90 Greatest Explorers List” by Canadian Geographic. As a researcher, TA was one of the first to use visual methods in outdoor recreation research in North America. TA’s research expertise spans qualitative inquiry into physical activity, outdoor education and recreation, adapted outdoor activity, and gender. TA’s teaching and research in adapted outdoor activity, including the founding the Newfoundland and Labrador Outdoor Inclusion Summit, has impacted the practices of many agencies that work with persons with disabilities within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tonia Gray & Marion Sturges & Jaydene Barnes: Preparing children to become risk technicians in a risk adverse society

Whist many believe Australians are a nature-loving nation, recent research suggests children are becoming estranged from the natural world. The manner in the which children engage with high risk, play activities during their formative years of growth and development has been well documented. Risk appetite and childhood play can be viewed as either an affordance or constraint. When considering parent and carer’s perceptions about children’s high-risk behaviours, our paper explores an Australian outdoor “NaturePlayPark” named “Boongaree”. Opening early 2022, amongst the hype and excitement a few accidents and misadventures occurred which resulted in children being injured. The threat of litigation soon followed. In an attempt to better understand the interplay between risk and benefit we explored this phenomenon through the eyes of parents and caregivers. A mixed-methods research design incorporated a two-phased approach; online survey (n=302), and a Facebook group for qualitative data.    

Professor Tonia Gray, PhD is a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University. She has been an educator for over 40 years training pre-service teachers for their impending pedagogical career. As a researcher, teacher-educator, and curriculum developer of Outdoor Education and Health/Physical Education, her transdisciplinary research explores human-nature relationships and their impact on health and well-being. Dr Sturges is an experienced educator of over 32 years. She has worked extensively across all educational sectors, having taught in and been a leader in the tertiary, secondary, primary and early childhood spaces. Her current role includes leading a team to prepare preservice educators for their professional experience placements. Marion has led and participated in numerous research projects working collaboratively with researchers and educators. Jaydene has extensive experience as an early childhood/primary educator.

Poster presentations in the lobby area

Chiara Borelli: Intersectional lens in outdoor education to cope with the future
Hana Rozman & Gregor Torkar: School in nature and attitudes of primary school students towards the environment
Heli Eischer: Finnish Youth Centre network

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