Encompassing Togetherness in Our Adventure Learning Journey


The 2021 class of adventure educators posing in Lapland surrounded by autumn foliage.

Hiking together can be a powerful learning experience. Hiking with others is an invitation for discovery. To be curious, to observe the surroundings, to pay attention to others’ pace, are all part of the adventure of sharing the same trails.

Lari Laasjärvi & Angela Dimisca

Experiential Learning

Learning by doing can be one of the most beautiful ways of learning. While hiking, we had the chance to experience in real time a fair share of theoretical information. Our experiential learning challenged us to work together in different ways, but also to work with ourselves.

Our classmate Antti Mäkinen had this to say about our experience:

The biggest challenges were definitely internal building attitudes. I love my comfort zones. I am very sensitive to the cold, I don’t like wind at all. These conditions are not challenging in a dangerous sense, they just were not very comfortable. I am trying to immerse myself in that environment and be content with myself. When I will be an educator, I cannot be so caught up with “Oh, this is uncomfortable. This makes me feel bad”. As an educator, I need to step up and embrace all the discomfort and look beyond, so I can be a guide for someone else, for a group. It was important to recognize that and to practice it.

Nature is more than a learning environment. It is an instrument that can guide your journey. In Lapland, we checked the weather well in advance so we can adapt our equipment, our food and our pace. If we let the nature guide our rhythm, we can experience a sync that guides us. The beautiful autumn colors invited us constantly to admire, be grateful and to stop and be present. Everywhere we looked, ruska contained so much beauty, it was impossible not to surrender to it.

Autumn foliage in red and orange colours in the northern wilderness.
A scenic image from our independent day-hike which was called ”a coffee break for middle-aged men.”
 (Photo: Lari Laasjärvi)

A Social and Emotional Journey

We spent the entire two weeks at Ylläs together with our fellow students. Starting from the first bus ride, until the return from the wilderness of Ylläs-Pallas national park, we were together. Everyday, we formed smaller groups according to our activities or the various tasks at hand. We led the group on our turn and mixed people around, so everyone had the chance to do things with everyone in the class. We pitched tents, maintained equipment, made dinner together and ran around naked into the river after sauna.

Learning social skills is a big part of our studies and being outspoken and an active group member is a major factor for successful studies. That goes without saying. During the two-week trip and reflecting the experience afterwards, some of us seemed to also realize the importance of ”me time”. It takes extra effort to find time just for yourself but it is worth it since you get to recharge for any following social activities.

The smartest of us woke up a couple of hours earlier than others. They had a morning walk or a quiet cup of coffee under a tree. Somebody had a peaceful session of tai-chi to calm the mind and body to receive the upcoming challenges of the day.

We realized that to feel strong as a group, we also need to feel strong as individuals.

The northern lights in the night sky over a single red tent.
Northern lights at Sioskuru. Living together in the wilderness is a way to grow as a group.
(Photo: Lari Laasjärvi)

Learning to Listen and to Connect

Being alone is also a skill, which is very much connected to our social life. As group leaders and community educators, we cannot be exhausted because we have told everybody all of our innermost experiences and feelings. It is important to understand, that we can miss a lot of things while talking, joking and being restless.

To understand nature, we have to be quiet and develop a skill of receiving what it has to offer. After all, we are all seekers of mother’s nature peace and beauty. With that all being said, spending time in the vast wilderness of Lapland does things to people. It makes people conscious and aware of emotions of our fellow and opens them up for real conversations about real and meaningful things.

In the end, we all found something new from each other and formed a strong foundation which we can build our future on together as friends and colleagues. We learned new technical skills, helped each other, received help and formed a real group attitude for our future studies. Returning to our classroom after a small break was amazing. All the anxieties and seriousness was gone, and we could all feel that. We felt so grateful for all we had learned and we can’t wait to experience and learn more as a team of AdEd21.

Last modified: November 12, 2021