This year in August the Big Change Foundation’s educational travel club visited the Caucasus State Natural Biosphere Reserve named after Kh. G. Shaposhnikov within the summer training program. The group of 15 people in total included teachers, students and the center’s graduates with their kids. There were experienced travelers, as well as newbies among the visitors. And still for all of them this trip was a new experience – difficult but very interesting.
We are very grateful to the Reserve’s management and employees for this opportunity. We want to express our special appreciation to Natalya S, the Reserve’s employee and our guide, for taking us around the Reserve’s territory during the whole training, telling us about its rules, history and the working process, and for answering our questions! We have attended the excursions to the open-air cages complex with animals and ecological trails, tried ourselves in the role of volunteers, and the most courageous members of the group had an opportunity to go hiking in the mountains through the Bzerpinsk cornice to the Holodny camp and see a huge glacier.
Such trips allow us to get to know how conservation facilities work in our country.
This experience is a great opportunity for kids to test their strengths, master their touristic and day-to-day skills, broaden the horizons and make up an adequate representation of the environment, get to know other peers and meet new people and experts.
During the training we learn to plan, project and analyze different real-life situations, try to solve problems and resolve conflicts together.
Trips like this let us experience the tourism culture, make our own discoveries, help us to get interested in the environment, as well as to see and value the beauty, they also help us to acquire new experiences that can come in handy in life.
Here is a little story to illustrate the trip. When we were going back after two-days camping through the Bzerpinsk cornice to the Holodny camp, we met a couple of tourists. They started asking questions, and our students, impressed and inspired by the camping, started sharing their stories with the tourists. The tourists were very surprised: “Sounds like you are a pro!”, and one of our students – Vasya – said: “We are now, but we all used to be newbies!”
During such trips, kids uncover their abilities and learn a lot. It is a path to understanding the world and themselves. This is what our students saya bout it:
“This is my first major camping trip where I feel such responsibility.”
“I am an explorer in this trip. Every day I explore myself.”
“I am amazed at myself and my own body.”
“I am grateful that I could go on this trip. Grateful for this opportunity. I really enjoyed the movie about how they nurture and help animals to adapt to their further independent life. This movie is awesome!”
“I am grateful for this opportunity to test myself and my strength and resilience.”
“I am grateful to myself for that despite all difficulties I had the courage to go through this path – to hike up and down the mountain.”
“I was sure that I could do it, and these thoughts helped me.”
“I went on this trip, had a good time and rest, made a lot of interesting discoveries, breathed some fresh air.”
“I am learning to deal with situations in the right way.”
The trip is an opportunity for learning to be among people and getting to know each other.
It wasn’t just a trip. We learned a lot of new things, learned to communicate during this trip, got to know new people and to share our experience. We managed to get to know each other better. This trip is a chance to learn how to communicate meaningfully and officially.
You can’t expect a trip to be perfect… There will always be something unexpected. You have to learn from experience and previous trips.
Such trips are very useful for newbies. I was a newbie on this trip, so the camping revealed all my weaknesses, which I overcame pretty quickly. I would especially recommend newbies to go on such trips, but only if they are interested.
It wasn’t just a trip for me, I went there to show myself, to learn something new. If you want to learn something new, for example, to cook, the trips are exactly what you need. Someone will have to cook breakfast and lunch. I told the facilitators that I didn’t have any experience cooking for myself and that I was eager to learn. And I started to cut greens, potatoes, tomatoes…The trips make you grow personally and allow you to learn necessary routine things.
We faced many difficulties in this trip. Was there something that helped us? Vasiliy, one of the participants, shared his thoughts about it:
“You know, in the first place, teamwork really helped. Because there were many difficulties, not just one or two… And despite them, the training programs were organized and completed, I think because we worked as a team. Our team was great, I really loved it. Every person in the team had their part to play and work to do, and it was the first thing that helped to solve problems. Everyone did something to make this trip happen and work. When we made decisions together to make sure that everyone feels comfortable. Every day something interesting happened, and it happened when we discussed something that didn’t go according to the plan.
What else was so valuable for us on this trip? We had an opportunity not to just get over the situation, but “to live through it, to understand, discuss and debate about it with the teacher”, as one of the students said. This kind of communication, a chance to discuss and analyze the situation, to listen and discover other people’s points of view are especially valuable. We hope that we will continue advancing this skill.
We would really wish that summer training trips like this one would be a regular thing, and we want to make them better and more interesting, so we made a list of recommendations for future participants regarding, for example, the preparation, packing and the menu improvements. Victor L, one of the Foundation’s students and the summer training participant, says: “I advise the participants of the next trip to go for everything because I was a little jealous when you went to the mountains. I hope that they will experience something totally new and conquer new peaks, and of course, have a lot of sunshine! I also would like to wish the facilitators to get a good rest next time. And to stay near the sea for some time!”
We have a lot of plans on 2021-2022 academic year! Thank you so much for supporting us and give us an opportunity to continue our common cause! We hope you are inspired and continue to support Big Change educational program. We can’t do it without you!