From 7th to 14th December 2023, we participated in the youth exchange Active minds: empowering youth through movement, organized by the nonprofit association Outward Bound Croatia.
Young people from four different countries – Estonia, Greece, Ukraine and Italy – took part in the exchange. Since it was an intercultural exchange, the stay was full of moments of dialogue, share and discovery of other cultures through quizzes, dances and food: in this article we decided to leave these enriching and joyful moments apart to concentrate more on the reflection coming up from the activities put in place by the organizing association.
The two facilitators Matija and Majda guided us through this experience about the awareness of that incredible and complex machine that we call ‘human body’. The activities took place in Veliki Zitnik, in the association’s educational center, a place quite isolated, surrounded by forests and mountains.
Despite ‘Netflix and chill’ temperatures, most of the activities took place outside: a memorable – but also quite tiring- day was the departure to the Krčmar peak, preceded by some orienteering notions, through which Majda taught us how to read a compass and a map. But the element that most exemplifies the days spent outdoors is undoubtedly that of the slackline, winding between the tough trunks of the trees and inviting us, through its vivid green color, to walk on it, challenging our balance and our mind; yeah, that’s right: challenging our mind. In fact, during this exchange, we learnt that the one occurring between mind and body is just one of the endless dichotomies through which we have learned to categorize the everything since our childhood.
Being concentrated on the present moment, hic et Nunc (as Horatius would say), emptying our mental pockets from all the existential worries, turns out to be fundamental if we want to achieve a good result in any physical activity; this concept is literally exasperated by the so-called “free solo climbers”, known for climbing vertical walls without the use of any protection, and whose challenges were recorded in the beautiful documentary Valley uprising. This documentary brings to the reflections on what we call ‘extreme’ sports.
In the end children are all ‘extreme’: It’s when we grow up that we learn ‘to play It safe’, exchanging that curiosity, that spirit of adventure and that healthy thoughtlessness for security and comfort. As adults we are hesitant, afraid of getting hurt, of failing: we were wind, and now we’re a solid anchor. So, here’s our invitation, that comes directly from the meaning of the association’s name ‘Outward Bound’: leave the safe waters of the harbor to dive into the waves of the open sea. Trust us: It’s worth It!
Giulia & Roberta
Sending organisation: Associazione di promozione sociale Joint (Italy)