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Forest Explorers is a project looking to engage youth (12–16 years old) from the village of Rîșcova, Moldova in some community building activities revolving around the local forest. These activities will consist of seminars and hands-on trainings focused on using the outdoors to learn, build confidence, increase team work and discover the world through local surroundings. The project will wrap–up with marking a ~5 km/~3 miles forest trail between Rîșcova and the neighboring village, Ivancea.
The Rîșcova village is bordering one of the most visited touristic sites in Moldova – the Orhei National Park. The territory separating Rîșcova from this national park is a forest land, so far unexplored it its potential for trails and connecting routes. This forest land along the Rîșcova village has nonetheless seen an increased demand for recreational activities on behalf of the various beneficiaries involved in EcoVisio/Eco-Village projects. Ivancea, the second location which will be connected to the trail, sits on the other side of the forest land within the National Park Orhei.
Forest Explorers is more than just an eco-club. The forest environment provides a space where teens can experience something different, be proactive and learn all about having fun outdoors. Just as importantly, they will feel a sense of achievement and ownership derived from starting the Rîșcova-Ivancea forest trail. The participants will be guided throughout the whole program by a couple of educators, one of whom is part of the same village community as the participants, whose combined experience cover all the essential know–how of living in the wild as well as specific knowledge of Rîșcova’s forest.
The activities, which will spread out over a period of ten months, have already kicked-off with an Impulse Seminar of the Forest Explorers club between 5-6 October 2018. The first club members had a chance to connect with the nature in their area through some wild camping, scouting and forest walks where they learned and applied some valuable orientation skills. Amongst their more memorable stops were the Red Lake and the secular cottonwood trees in Rîșcova, both spectacular examples of a forest ecosystem. The evening had in store an authentic campfire dinner, which the teens prepared themselves right down to gathering the wood for making the cooking tripod.
The second meeting will take place on October 12–13, with the participation of two experts from the US Forest Service – Eurasia program specialist Bella Gordon and trail expert Bob Birky. The first day will be spent in the company of the Forest Explorers’ coordinating team, getting to know the project and assessing the location to see how it can best accommodate a forest trail. The second day will be all about the Explorers, who will once again enjoy a day filled with outdoors fun and sensory-based learning.
After this second meeting, the club’s activities will resume on a monthly basis, with each of the meetings focusing on a specific topic relevant to forest explorations. These will include: hiking, climbing, trail philosophy, signage, mapping, basic astronomy, flora & fauna, among many other kinds of adventures.
The Forest Explorers program and club will conclude its activities around May 2019, with the Rîșcova-Ivancea forest trail already marked by then within the frame the project.
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