Down by the river

Grant report
by Comunità di San Martino al Campo









Target Group: teenagers (12-17years) that were reported to the social service for school dropouts
Impact: 32 days. 2 to 8 hours a day

Down by the river

Project description

With the “Down by the River” project we wanted to promote an active knowledge of our territory both educationally and to enhance the resources of active and sustainable tourism.
The descent of the entire course of the Tagliamento river (178 km) represented a considerable challenge for children who were unaccustomed to being outdoors. The boys had to deal with various activities, both physically (trekking, rafting and cycling), and reading the context geographically and historically.
For this reason the preparation phase was very important:

  • devise the route together with the children and which sections to do by bike, on foot or by packraft;
  • cycle workshop laboratory to be able to independently manage small breakdowns
  • preparation day trips (preparation for fatigue, group harmony, individual ability to stay out of the comfort zone)

The activities lasted throughout the school year and had positive repercussions both during the exam and during the summer. The main experience (the descent of the Tagliamento in 5 days) absolutely did not satisfy the desire to be together in the open air and discover new landscapes, in fact during the summer other activities followed succesfully: SUP, snorkeling, trekking, climbing and camping in particular.
Also educationally we had good results. During the exam interview, all the students were asked something about the trip and some even made it the center of their final paper.
Particular emphasis has been given to the historical events that took place on the Tagliamento river. Helped by Francesco Zardini (a historic cartoonist), the students reworked what they saw and learned by inventing short comic stories: the river, the mountain and the war as protagonists.

You don’t just learn from books: there’s a great school out there!

Project Data

Where did the activities take place?

Italy, Friuli Venezia Giulia. Especially in the nearby of the Tagliamento River

When did the activities take place?

The entire school year (september 21 – june 22) and the following summer

How many days and hours per day of physical activity were included in the activities

32 days. 2 to 8 hours a day

How many participants took part in the activities? 14 guys took part in the whole trip. 8 other boys joined for the summer activities
Describe the target group that took part in the activities The kids we work with are all teenagers (12-17 years) reported to the social service for school dropouts. They are young people from situations of social hardship and educational poverty, not used to using time in a healthy way, especially in the open air. Some were enthusiastic about participating, some skeptical. Everyone, with a couple of exceptions, had to be trained and used to this type of effort. I think it is very indicative that such a high percentage of school dropouts do not play sports or outdoor activities.
What was the average age of participants? 14,4 years
What was the physical activity level of the participants? Only 2 out of 22 boys play sports regularly. Everyone has bad health habits
How many boys/men? 13 boys
How many girls/women? 9 girls

Money received from the Coalition in €:

3.000 EUR

What did you use the money for (guides, gear, accommodation…)? We paid for the rafting guides and part of the overnight stays.

Project Testimonials

How did I feel about the project before it started?

I really wanted to have fun with my mates. I was a little nervous about the rafting and didn't want to walk at all; I had a bit of a desire to ride a bike but I was afraid I wouldn't do the whole trip.

I had no intention of participating, but a friend convinced me.

I was thrilled, I couldn't wait to leave.

I actually didn't know what to expect. Part of me was worried about being away from home, always around other people. But I was also curious.

I wanted to stay in Trieste. I didn't think I could have as much fun as I have with my friends.

What was a challenge?

The rafting was exciting and tiring. Even the bicycle, pedaling for two consecutive days.

I didn't think I could do it, I didn't have the courage to say that I don't know how to ride a bike except on the day we were supposed to pedal. G. was able to convince me and teach me. I wobbled a bit, remembering the times I'd tried. At one point I unlocked and left. But being able to cover all 70 km was a feat! What effort, what satisfaction!

I don't know how to ride a bicycle and I don't want to learn. However I managed to do the whole route on the tandem. I thought it's better if I learn, so I don't have to spend all the time behind T. who drives the tandem.

It was very tiring for me to spend 5 days always with people, not having the time to be on my own

What was your favourite part of the project?

Rafting. But also the bicycle in the end, maybe we liked it less also because the day before we had done the rafting which was super!

I liked all the activities we did in the water: rafting, but also sup and above all snorkelling.

I liked seeing the Tagliamento from above (from Monte di Ragogna ed), in the midst of the military posts of the First World War.

I liked the walk in the mountains (Friuli Dolomites ed.) I was devastated but I'm very pleased I made it!

Sleeping in a tent in the middle of the mountains was incredible for me. Even though it rained most of the time. Being all together under the common tent cooking dried soups. They sucked and yet I remember it as one of the best dinners ever.

How will this project influence your outdoor adventures in the future?

I don't think I'll ever do stuff like that again.

I'm lazy, so I don't think I'll ever go to the mountains on my own. Maybe a friend needs to convince me.

For me it was beautiful, I can't wait to be able to do it again. I would like to start again today.

I don't know if I would be able to organize everything without you, but I would like to go and do similar things with my friends.

Since I was in the mountains for the first time, I would do nothing else.

This effort has taught me that if I want, I can do it. That if you are willing to work hard, any goal is within your reach. And that together is more beautiful.

I have seen beautiful places. I've never seen anything like it.

Some Other Things

Would you recommend applying for an #itsgreatoutthere grant?

9 out of 10

How useful would you say the support provided by the Coalition was to your project? These 3 years of support have allowed us to give these young people very important experiences, who were particularly poor. The SMaC already used outdoor activities and pedagogical adventures to educate difficult kids (and will continue to use them), but IGOT has allowed us to raise the bar. For these guys with very low self-esteem being able to wear important brands as sponsors was very gratifying.


Riccardo Taddei