Training Course on „Sports, outdoor activities & participation“ – Soap

Björn Vilhjálmsson & Renos Georgiu
How to use sports and outdoor activities to increase youth participation in youth work
x  Solo (1 person) x  Small group

(< 20 people)


 Large group

(> 20 people)




Daily learning buddies, 1) first solo with diary, then 2) in discussion. Learning diaries, diary moments (DM), random.., etc
  Pictures /

X  drawings







x Other forms of expression




  Social media   Digital diary


X  Indoors


 X  Out of doors   On-line


Don´t direct content, direct process in order to co-create the reflective process.

In the presentation to our reflective work on day 1 the diary was introduced and a short overview of what it might contain was shown. The Idea was introduced that the pax could and would create their own textbook of learning by putting everything that they found interesting and wanted to remember in the book.

Thhe trainers regularly provided spaces of time for this work.

Develop relationships based on trust, openness, empathy, honesty, dialogue and feed-back.

The process was started by using the first day for team-building and different activities that can promote the abovementioned qualities in the group-life. The trainers also tried, by examle, to underpin this kind of atmosphere.

Facilitate growth in awareness in learners, help them to “own” their learning,

In a personal and meaningful way.

It was an invitation to use the diaries, learning buddies and quiet times for making contact with what was going on in the training process and inside themselves, using facilitation to create to open opportunities where it was possible to dwell with your experience. Digesting and elaborating the learning in conversation with other learners helps to gain the ownership of the learning.

Try to manage the paradox, involved in steering of an intrinsic learning process, ie to create a hightened reflective attention of learners.

By presenting different and varied ways of processing learning, by creating an atmosphere that supports curiosity, enjoyment and interest in ones own learning, it is possible to give direction and quality to an innerprocess. It less an intent to „stdeer“ as to give direction.

Slow down and value moments of not-knowing, while progressively deepening your reflection questions.

„Slowing down“, meaning to lessen inteference and agitation from outside is necessary for a person or a group to be attentive to what is going on inside. This is one of the premises that have to be fulfilled before deep reflection can be achieved.

Recall that reflection can never be imposed, only kindly invited.

The invitation is high-lighted by the fact that the trainier/facilitator creates the time and space in the program – but does not „control“ what the learner actually does in that space.

Be careful of how you assess reflection – if you assess it at all.

The reflective diary aka textbook of own creation was private and personal – never assessed, and only seen by others if invited by the owner. Material from it maybe shared in learning duos or in other reflections.

Always consider reflection as a broad and deepening process, that should be holistic.

The training team made an effort to underline, highlight and emphasize that reflection includes much more thatn evaluation or assessment.

The steps taken to implement:

I was trying not to frontload the concept and word of „reflection“; presenting many ways of doing it; start slowly; make the idea enjoyable; do it a lot; with humour and kindness.

Your assessment of the outcome:

I didn´t assess it formally, but people made remarks to me on how interesting and enjoyable it was to „think, talk and express“ their learning and to exlore what learning means.




A Trainer’s story

Björn Vilhjálmsson


This part of my “practice phase” was a 6 day training course for leaders in youth-work, teachers and others who work with young people in non-formal and sometimes formal educational settings. This course was sponsored by several NA´s of smallest EU and EEC counties.

This text says something about the program and the venue, the village of Kakopetria in the region of the Throodos region in western Cyprus:

“Sport is a very attractive activity for many young people. It is fun to do, brings you together with friends and is healthy for your body and spirit. Sport is not only about winning of competition. Sport can bring people together and help individuals to learn.”

“In the SOAP training, we will explore the power of sport, the possibilities that it brings to attract young people and to use it as an educational tool. We will use the extraordinary setting and land­scape of the Troodos region of Cyprus to merge outdoor learning with the power of sports. In the training there will be time be out of doors, to do sport, talk about sport, learn about sport and its effects on participation, inclusion and other societal issues.”

In planning this training course with my training colleague, and coming from a background of working with non-formal educational settings and outdoor experiential education, I volunteered to organize and take care of the digesting and the developing of the learning from the process, ie the reflection part of the learning process.

In non-formal learning situations I always try to organize the time, the frequency, the atmosphere and the method of reflection in such a way that it becomes an accepted, interesting and joyful activity for my participants. But usually in non-formal learning processes the facilitator has shorter calendar time with his group of learners but longer hours together while the process lasts and can explore all different facets of the reflective process.

In formal educational settings reflection can often become something different for people, as it can become something that is little fun, not interesting you personally and a chore that the learner is forced to do and he knows that he will be assessed by his, usually, written reflection. And finally even the word “reflection” creates a reluctance in the learner to enter this process of reflection and the learner will actually miss out on “digesting and personalizing” their individual learning process.

So what I wanted to do in this TC was never or hardly ever use the word “reflection” but still reflect a lot. So I used many methods of reflecting, as can be seen in the table above, without actually calling it “reflection”. Instead I would often use a description of the process or something else, like “learning buddies”, using the diary, keeping notes, creating “your” textbook, being attentive to your own processes, keeping the diary, dive into the now, etc.

At the end it became very natural to the participants to “reflective” and to use every opportunity to work in their books / diaries, whether it was prompted or it was an invitation by me. Some of them came to me during the training course to tell me how interesting and worthwhile they found to be invited for “rdm´s” and working so deeply with reflective diaries or preserving their immediate perceptions or thoughts in this fashion.

And that was my aim and the outcome was beyond what I expected.