Only when you have seen the beauty of nature you develop the goal to preserve it. This is why every year together with our partner Abenteuer Schwarzwald we invite 16 teenagers from all over Germany to join us for a week of adventure in the newly founded Black Forest Nationalpark in the South West of Germany. Through teaching them photography and film in several workshops, as well as building emotional bonds with nature by experiencing extraordinary moments, we show the participants the stunning beauty of the forest from a variety of different and unknown perspectives.
The Young Explorers learn not only about remote lakes and waterfalls during tours with the national park rangers but also improve their photography skills in taking star pictures and learn how to edit their own short film about the wilderness. But most importantly the 16 participants who had never met before grow as a group that will certainly make a change in the future! It is remarkable how fast close bonds can be built and how motivated everyone is for all the activities we organize during these days. Besides the great adventures we live through together, the inspiring atmosphere isthe biggest contribution to the accomplishment of forming such a diverse and ambitious group.
Here is what the 2015 cohort thinks about the highlight of the camp: a 35km trek through the national park!
Tonight we could sleep a little longer than normally. Breakfast is set for only 6am and a short time later we are about to start the highlight of the week! An adventure trek across the whole National Park, we will complete in groups of four. On the way we will have to accomplish challenges that will be of physical but also mental nature. The team that fastest covers the 35km will be the winner!
Group Annika, Ali, Leonie & Levin: “One step, two steps, three steps closer to the target. Still 45,997 steps to walk for us when we are at the beginning of the adventure trek. We are highly motivated! We find coordinates, maps and instructions and make one step after another toward a destination that we do not yet know. We still enjoy the nature in the Black Forest National Park as we approach the first destination: the lake Huzenbach. “
Group Laura, Maja, Ruben & Tim: “The first challenge waiting for us is a bare foot walk around the lake. Already at this early stage of the race, our team spirit is required, so that we will finally reach our destination all together. Because of the sharp stones walking is difficult, so we help each other. We start understanding the saying that you can achieve anything as a well-functioning team. “
Group Dustin, Fabian, Isabella & Kathrin: “Due to an erroneous coordinate in the very beginning, it is clear to us that we will have no chance of winning the race. But now our group has the opportunity to truly enjoy the National Park and its landscape. Accordingly, hike the rest of the trails in a relaxed mood and get to know the complete range of the national park. Despite or perhaps because of the last place we enjoy the adventure trek a lot – according to the principle: The journey is the reward!”
Group Annika, Ali, Leonie & Levin: “We are in the front, a great feeling. In large parts of the route the group behind us is at least one or two kilometers away and after the first few hours we are almost sure we will win the competition. We even take the time to observe a wild deer, and really enjoy the hike “
Group Leoni, Moritz, Niklas & Svenja: „It’s a constant head-to-head race between us and the team in front of us. Towards the end, the others actually have an advantage but as a team we can jointly motivate each other again to increase our pace and finally catch up with them at the last challenge: filling a bucket with water from the lake and safely bring it up the mountain without spilling any of it.“
Group Annika, Ali, Leonie & Levin: „We arrive as the first group at the Wildsee, completely out of breath. However, the way to the hut, our final destination, leads to our downfall. The other group has saved reserves, can still recall their last strength and overtakes us so short before the destination. A shock – did they really make it? Until shortly before the finish we were the first group, in the end we arrive second. However, we hug the winners and are happy for them as well as for ourselves, as we have managed have an exciting head-to-head race which no one had expected – and in the end we are all happy.“
At 4.30pm, it is finally accomplished! All groups have successfully mastered the adventure trek. Everyone is super exhausted and tired after this 35km trek through the national park. In the hut some tasty dinner is prepared for us to fill up our energy reserves for the last exciting days to come. This day was a truly life-changing experience for all of us!