Exploring your surroundings

Exploring your surroundings

When it comes to outdoor education, quite often we tend to think of complicated, physical challenges or programs that are hard to organize and to make accessible for everyone. Through “Connectivity” we are looking for ways to make these activities more simple and reachable for everyone working with fewer opportunity adults. What better than exploring your own backyard?
Name of the activity: Exploring your surroundings (the place of your choice)
Duration: it depends on the purpose of your activity, still, it’s better to leave minimum 1 hour, so that your participants have enough time to explore and to accomplish their tasks.
Preferred location: any location where your participants have the chance to communicate with locals and to fulfill a list of tasks.
Working method: learning by doing; individual work and teamwork (groups of maximum 5 people).
Purpose (expected impact, outcomes): improving the communication skills of your participants, creating a connection with locals and supporting their active participation in the community.
Instructions: create a list of assignments for your group or groups of participants depending on their interests or dynamics. The assignments should vary and should not only hold opportunities for fun, but also for communication in different forms – for ex. find the owner of a local café and teach him a song while you talk about his hardships in the business world; ask someone to tie your shoes and in return, tell them a short story from your life.
Don’t forget to ask for pictures and videos as proof for all challenges that are done.
When creating these assignments, keep in mind the following:
– make them challenging enough for your participants, so that they enjoy doing them;
– preferably do a little bit of research about the area (this is not obligatory though), so that you can create assignments that have potential for communication, for shared stories; assignments that can strengthen the bond between the local community and your participants;
– make it all dynamic, with different kinds of assignments;
– when it comes to communication, think of non-verbal elements as well. 
Before sending out your participants, brief them on the purpose of the activity and on the importance of respect whenever they approach someone. For the rest, wish them fun and send them out for the adventure!
Debriefing: after they arrive back, have a short closing with them; the following questions can guide you, but of course you can create your own:
– if you would put this experience into one word, what would it be?
– how would you describe the way that you worked together with your team?
– what have you learned?
– what are your qualities when it comes to communicating with other people?
– what would you improve for the next time?
Possible alternatives, changes for different circumstances: through this activity you encourage your participants to meet the local community, to have valuable conversations that could even continue in the future and to discover more about their own communication styles within and outside of a team. Furthermore, you also give the possibility of realizing what is it that your participants already master and what could they be better at – making your own observations and working with them, you can design further steps and learning possibilities based on the outcomes.
Depending on the group and your time frame, you can always create different assignments, send them further or closer; as long as the activity serves your purpose.