Forest Explorers – the trailbralizing teens of Rîșcova village
The club "Forest Explorers" is a project looking to engage youth (12–16 years old) from the village of Rîșcova, Criuleni district of Moldova in some community building activities revolving around the local forest. These activities consisted 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 also resulted in creation of a forest trail between Rîșcova and the lake of the neighboring village, Ivancea, which will be officially opened on June 9, 2019 (details here).
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 Moldova projects.
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. Throughout the whole program, the participants were guided by facilitators experienced in working with children and/or nature, among which also some locals from Riscova.
The activities kicked-off with an Impulse Seminar of held on 5-6 October 2018. The 14 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 experiences from the meeting were the Red Lake and the secular cottonwood trees in Rîșcova, both spectacular examples of the forest ecosystem. The evening had in store an authentic campfire dinner, prepared from the beginning till the end mostly by the teens themselves.
The second meeting will take place on October 12–13, with the participation of two experts from the US Forest Service – the donor of the project. The first day of the meeting was about 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 was all about the 14 Explorers, who will once again enjoy a day filled with outdoors fun and sensory-based learning.
After that, the club’s activities resumed on a monthly basis, with each of the meetings focusing on a specific topic relevant to forest explorations - and always involving some practical activities. Among the topics that have been tackled: hiking, climbing, trail philosophy, signage, mapping, basic astronomy, flora & fauna, among many other unplanned, but exciting adventures.