Youth Hiking School

Grant report

by Zadar Mountain Guide Association (cro: Stanica planinarskih vodiča Zadar)









Target Group: young people (11-13years)
Impact: 12 days. 6 to 8 hours per activity

Project description

With The Youth Hiking School Project we aimed to introduce school age children to the basics of hiking and basic mountaineering knowledge and skills in a safe outdoor environment with the instruction of licensed mountain guides, instructors, Croatian Mountain Rescue Team members and other outdoor professionals (rock climbers, speleologists, nature preservationists). The emphasis was on the thematic hiking trips that included practice sessions covering main terminology in hiking and mountaineering (such as basics of hill walking and staying in the wilderness, nature protection, subjective and objective dangers, first aid and rescue, rock climbing and orientation).

The activities lasted throughout the beginning of the school year and had a positive impact on general wellbeing and interest of the children were they had a great desire for the weekends that followed. Particular emphasis was given to the ‘leave no trace’ mindset where we strived to highlight, through learning in the protected environment, the importance of respecting the surroundings and its inhabitants, and where we stand as nature enthusiasts, hikers, or day visitors in raising the awareness of responsible walking and exploration.

Project Data

Where did the activities take place?

Croatia: National Park Paklenica and Nature park Velebit (Paklenica mountain lodge, Zavrata mountain hut, Crnopac area, surrounding area of the Mountain house Ravni Dabar)

When did the activities take place?

September 24, 2022, to November 19 and 20, 2022

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

In total 12 days (weekends and work days included), 6 to 8 hours per activity. Two weekends were during two whole days because they included sleeping at the mountain lodge.

How many participants took part in the activities?

21 (13 girls and 8 boys)

Describe the target group that took part in the activities

The young people we worked with were school-age children who had physical education classes 2 days per week, as per school curriculum, and only a few of them had engaged before in outdoor activities. With this project we aimed to promote the benefits of time spent in the open air, the outdoor activities and fun that goes along with it, as well as to reach out to schools to promote healthy and safe outdoor practices. We were all aware that the pandemic had led to many services in child welfare being postponed or cut back, impacting children’s mental health and emotional well-being. With nature as their classroom, the children had the ability to learn more about themselves and the environment, while doing so in a responsible and genuinely sustainable way.

What was the average age of participants?

11 to 13 years. Mostly 12-year olds.

What was the physical activity level of the participants?

Physical education classes 2 days per week, almost minimal.

How many boys/men?

8 boys

How many girls/women?

13 girls

Money received from the Coalition in €:

5.000 EUR

What did you use the money for (guides, gear, accommodation…)?

  • Transportation (bus for the weekends)
  • accommodation and meals for the children and guides at mountain lodges and huts, volunteer and staff expenses
  • Gear to support the activities (Harness CA Energy Junior -4x, Kid’s harness Hopi XXS-XS -2x. Kid’s harness XS-S -3x, Full body harness Zuni Rock Empare -1x, Climbing rope Tendon smart lite – 2x, Climbing helmet-1x, Climbing shoes kids -3x, Slackline 25 m-1x. Climbing helmt Shield II -2x, Climbing helmet Petzl Boreo -4x, Quickdraws -4x, Tent Svalbard 3 -1x, Yellow T-shirts -26x, Cordelette 4 mm, 3m -22x, Hiking diary- 22x

Project Testimonials

How did I feel about the project before it started?

All of the children said they were excited to start with the activities and to meet each other. They were most excited about the weekends preceding building an improvised shelter and rock climbing. They said they felt positively nervous and could not wait to gather around the fire. They said that if only school was like that and they genuinely looked forward to learn, spend some time together and have fun.

What was a challenge?

Some of the challenges the children expressed were that some of them were spending their first night without the parents or other members of the family. Some of them were feeling nervous but excited. We did our best to provide them as much information they asked for to feel safe and positively interested. Some children expressed concern and fear of heights but with the help of guides and their friends they slowly but surely engaged in those activities and overcame their fears.

What was your favourite part of the project?

It was nice having a break from my phone and just walking around, looking at the trail and the canyon above.

It is awesome to be at camp - to light a fire in a fire pit and sing songs, to meet Irena, the Mountain housekeeper and to sleep there, I even had my pajama with me. We also played games there.

I pretended to be injured and my fiends helped me by immobilizing my leg and put me on a stretcher in a forest. It was a nice ride, we all wanted to try.

I was afraid of climbing and now I can't wait to try again.

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

The children said that they would like to go again, what is more, they talked about it at school and with their friends who later wanted to join. They said that they would join the excursions and hikes organized for families and children at the Hiking Club. Some of them are now bouldering at the gym that has opened. It thrills us to see that they are already engaging and that they showed that they could do far more than they initially believed.

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?

Very useful, because without the grand we wouldn’t be able to reach out to more than a handful of children. By receiving the grant, we worked with 21 different and amazing  ndividuals who were enthusiastic, engaging and gained interest in outdoor activities. We were able to ensure the gear for most of them, organize their transportation and provide them with a lifetime experience. What is more, we were reached by one of the schools where our colleague guide works and where some of the children were enrolled, to organize 4  educational trips during the school year. So, we are seeing the positive, and hopefully longterm, impact this project had. Also, one of our members held a lecture at a local Public library to celebrate International Mountain Day in 2022.


Maja Trusic