Abroad // Training Course “Holistic Outdoor Leadership Programme” in Puebla de la Sierra, Spain

In June 2021 Eilidh and Liridon from Germany represented NaturKultur on the Erasmus+ Training Course “Holistic Outdoor Leadership Programme (HOLP)” in Puebla de la Sierra, Spain, organised by Madrid Outdoor Education. 20 participants from Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Poland, Germany and Portugal came together to learn about non-formal education techniques to develop leadership skills and how to support intelligent groups in youth work. The entire training course was outdoors in a valley outside of Madrid, so was very isolated from the rest of the world, with the participants living and working entirely in nature.


During the first two days the group participated in workshops about leadership and teamwork. They discussed the requirements a group needs to succeed and how to deal with conflicts in group work with a mixture of presentations and learning-by-doing, along with games and role-playing activities. During the evenings everyone would cook together and learn about each other’s experiences working in Erasmus+ and youth work. The participants were also split into smaller personal reflection groups, which gave them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings on the course and reflect on what they were learning.


The participants were then split into two groups of 10 for the “HOLP 24 Micro-Adventure!”, a hiking expedition, with the first group going on day 3 and the second group on day 4. During this adventure, the participants had to hike up two mountains (Alto del Porrejón and Pico de la Tornera), the former during the day, and the latter during the night, whilst putting all the skills they had learnt during the experience into practice. The groups “bivouacked” in the nature.


Eilidh and Liri were in different groups for the Micro-Adventure. Below you can read about Eilidh’s experience.


“For me, it was one of the first times I’ve gone hiking and camped overnight where I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I am used to hiking in torrential rain and wind so the 30 degree weather and blazing sun was a big difference from what I’m used to! I really enjoyed how we all took turns to navigate and lead and we all supported each other throughout the hiking. The views from the peaks were incredible and the hills were covered in wild lavender and thistles. We slept nearby  Pico de la Tornera (the second peak) and from where we set up camp we could see the Madrid city skyline: it felt surreal, as we were completely isolated and even though I could see the bright city lights, it still felt like we were in a completely different world 


We then woke up at 4.30am the next morning and proceeded to hike up Pico de la Torenera. We made it at 6.40am, 3 minutes before sunrise. We watched the sunrise and it is a moment that I will never forget. I learnt so much about myself during the micro-adventure. Leaving my comfort zone (especially during Covid times, where I’ve stayed in the same city for months), getting a change of scenery, and meeting so many cool, interesting people, made this training course such an amazing experience.”


On the final days, the groups participated in personal reflection workshops and discussed what they had learnt during the hiking, before saying goodbye to each other and going back to Madrid.


Thank you to Javier, Carlos and the rest of the Madrid Outdoor Education team for organising a fantastic, insightful training course and thank you to all the other participants for an amazing, unforgettable 5 days.


Photos: Madrid Outdoor Education/Javier Velasco