If we are to believe Martin Ringer, a well-known professional within Adventure Therapy, what happened these days in October is nothing less than history being made. Whether all the participants themselves would describe it like that, is hard to say, but there is no doubt that great things were being discussed.
The ”historic” event that I speak of was the first meeting between the representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, with the intent to create a network for Nordic practitioners, academics and researchers of outdoor therapy.
The meeting was held in the days from the 23rd to the 25th of October 2017 in Turku, Finland, and consisted of 8 participants. 3 Finns, Miia Riihimäki, Pekka Lyytinen og Markus Mattsson, who were also our generous hosts. 2 participants from Sweden, Niklas Taliaferro and Maria Palmer, who had company from one participant from Norway, Leiv Einar Gabrielsen, as well as Tinna J. Mariager and yours truly, Thomas Kjær from Denmark.
The Icelandic representatives, Harpa Ýr Erlendsdóttir and Alda Pálsdóttir, didn’t have the opportunity to participate, but we were in their thoughts, I’m sure. Neither had the coordinator for our Nordic network, the Norwegian Carina Ribe Fernee, who was recovering from a head injury, but she was frequently updated, as the days went forth.
The aim of the meeting was to establish a contact between the Nordic countries, in regards to the practice of adventure therapy, wilderness therapy, ”friluftsliv”, and the many other expressions that are being used in this connection. Because of the many different expressions used in regards to outdoor activities in a therapeutic context, there was a consensus on the meeting about the need for changing the name of the network.
Before the days in Turku, the representatives had contacted each other under the title of a meeting for the ”Nordic Adventure Therapy and Outdoor Education Network”. Because of the Nordic approach for the network, together with the diversity for the practitioners in the network, the name was changed to ”Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network”.
We see ”outdoor” as the keyword, because we wish to focus on the ”outdoor” work overall, defined in that we leave our indoor officeclimate. Outdoor education and knowledge about ”friluftsliv” is a fundamental part of the work that is being done at outdoor therapy. With the namechange, we wish to acknowledge that outdoor therapy dosn’t necessarily have to be adventure-based, but that adventure can be an element amongst many other elements.
The network wish to focus especially on the therapeutic aspect, whilst outdoor therapy demands both therapeutic and competency in ”friluftsliv”, so we hope that everyone with the interest for Aventure therapy and Outdoor Education will participate in the exciting times, that we are moving towards.
The meeting didn’t just consist of baptising the network, but also the goals for the network, and what it wishes to achieve. The Network wishes from hereon to gather members from all the Nordic countries, with a vision to create research, networking, and a greater cultural understanding for, and elaboration of, what the Nordic countries has to offer in regards to the use of therapy in an outdoor enviroment. There is an opinion amongst the representatives, that in the Nordic countries, there is a distinctive cultural approach to the use of nature in regards to therapy.
The days offered also the appointment of three new ambassadors to the IATC, the International Adventure Therapy Comitee. Niklas and Maria from Sweden can now call themselves a part of the council, and represent Sweden in that regard. Apart from this, Denmark has also been given a new ambassador, Thomas. The ambassadors are in short people, who spread all over the world create a network of contacts, that are available for those of you who have questions, comments or ideas for both the 8th International Adventure Therapy Conference in Sydney, Australia 2018, and the Adventure Therapy networks in general.
International Adventure Therapy Commitee (IATC) * National ambassadors, from the respective countries. * Holds conferences every 3 years. Next years’ conference is held in Sydney in 2018 (8th International Adventure Therapy Conference) Read more, and sign up here: https://internationaladventuretherapy.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalAdventureTherapy/
Adventure Therapy Europe (ATE) * Regional representatives. * Holds conferences every 2 years. Next conference is in 2019 in Hungary (2nd Gathering of Adventure Therapy in Europe, ”GATE”) Website: http://adventuretherapy.eu/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adventuretherapyeurope/?ref=br_rs
Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network (NOTN) * National representatives from each of the Nordic countries. * Next representative meeting is held in about 1 year in Kristiansand, Norway.. A new website is being designed. Until then, this is the website of the network: http://nordic- adventure-therapy.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/540133506166308/
Adventure Therapy Denmark (name change can come in the new year) * The networks founder and coordinator: Tinna J. Mariager. Co-coordinator: Line Steinkraus Holds networkmeetings every 6 months. Third meeting is held in spring 2018. News can be found here: https://adventuretherapydenmark.wordpress.com/
Seikkailuterapia – Adventure Therapy Finland * Coordinated by Pekka Lyytinen and Miia Riihimäki. Founded at the Ulos-Ut-Out! Conference in Finland. Will have their first meeting early 2018. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/130883390820139/
Utendørsterapi – Outdoor Therapy Norway * Coordinated for the time being by Carina Ribe Fernee and Leiv Einar Gabrielsen. First consolidation meeting will be held at the Camp Conference at Bragdøya in May 2018. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1782995478667686/
Tinna and I landed in Helsinki airport on Monday around 10oclock. We here were joined by the Norwegian Leiv, whom we followed to ”The Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Children and Young People – The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare”. We had here arranged to meet the remaining representatives, to see how to do Outdoor Therapy in Finland. After a short round of introduction, we were shown to a barn, that was arranged as a obstaclecourse, with challenges that can only be solved with teamwork.
This worked as a great start for reflections that drew lines to the many talks that followed in these days. The participants after this drove off to where they were gonna spend their nights. Most of us ended up staying at the ”Laivahostel”, a former ferry now turned into a hostel (worth a stay for sure, if you ever stay in Turku!) After this, a feast followed at a local resturant, were the talk quickly went to the many different themes tied to Outdoor Therapy, and our common dreams and hopes for developing this field.
The work done the following day happened in a meetingroom in a local yatch club in the Finnish archipelago. Here the individual countries introduced their countries’ roots in regards to Outdoor and Adventure Therapy, and listened intensely as the others told about their heritage.
Hereafter the change of the name of the network was discussed, and a new name saw the light of day. Not a discussion that was taken lightly, but an important one to take, since the name also will carry the identity of the Network as we move forward.
Apart from this, there were also taken time to discuss, what purpose the network should serve. The purpose should be seen as a supplement to the networks of the individual countries. To create an organ, that with common help increase the use of, and quality of Outdoor Therapy in the Nordic countries, from a common cultural and historical background.
Such an organ would be able to collect knowledge about, as well as support the expansion of Outdoor therapy. For that very reason it was discussed if we in the future should should write a book that describes the use of Outdoor Therapy in the Nordic countries, with both the cultural, historical and societal frames, for the individual Nordic countries. Such a book is still on the idea stage, but there is interest for making the project into reality.
When it turned evening, we were served an amazing dinner by the Swedish representatives. The dish consisted of boarsausages, and a concoction of root vegatables. A feast like no other. After this, we had the opportunity to try the sauna (because what is a visit to Finland, without going to a sauna?). The time in the sauna again gave time to alot of reflections, and was therefore equal part of pleasure, and an equal part of ”hard” work.
Wednesday gave us until noon to talk about the decisions of the day before, as well as dividing out different tasks at hand. In the future there will be a focus on establishing a website for the Network, as well as continueing and improving our vibrant facebook group. There has also been thoughts about applying diffent funds to provide much needed capital for the Network, so everyone with knowledge about this are welcome to contact us.
We were a few who shared a car back to the airport. Before we left, we said proper goodbye to the representatives, and thanked our Finnish friends for their hospitality. We all experienced that the last couple of days were small but important steps on the road to spreading the use of Outdoor theapy to our small corner of the world.
As the final words about the meeting, the Network would like to invite everyone to join in with talk, discussions, posts, ideas, and pictures on the ”Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network” facebookpage.
We support that everyone shares both big and small things on the page, to create a vibrant and active site. It can be anything from ”my office today” pictures, to good news on national level, links for studies/courses, questions and so on.
We are heading towards some exciting years for Outdoor Therapy in the north, and we all look forward to hear more from you about where this journey brings us, both globally, European, Nordic, and nationally.
Written by Thomas Kjær, representative from Denmark, in the Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network