Together, the participants from 24 countries sparked the inner fire full of enthusiasm and passion in mutual exchange, gratitude and solidarity for the work with people in nature at the International Conference in Zurich.
Video of the conference
Trying to put into words what we have experienced over the past year with the preparations and implementation of the conference fills a whole book. The idea from the initiative for the 1st Action Day “International Day of the Forest Kindergarten” 2018 started timidly and received grateful energy from the many positive feedbacks, which formally called for inviting all forest kindergartens to a conference on the 2nd Action Day 2019.
The organization team, from the board of the cooperative Feuervogel (Nadja Hillgruber and Christoph Lang as well as Andrea Schneider and Didier Moser) and Petra Jäger of the Waldkindergarten Flensburg quickly noticed how the spark caught fire internationally and ignited a real firework of energy in the other countries. “We feel connected with these children from completely different nations, because they have the same homeland around itself, i.e. our nature” , said Petra Jäger, which created 1993 on 3 May the first recognized forest kindergarten in Flensburg (DE).
Photo slideshow of the opening of the conference
The willingness of the ambassadors we appointed for the natural children from 17 countries to support the conference was overwhelming. The net stretched out and reached with its outermost tips Chile to the west and Ladakh and South Korea to the east. Despite further distances, friendly connections developed and we woven together at our network “Children of nature worldwide hand in hand”. The remarkable dynamism for the conference was unstoppable from then on.
Photoslideshow of the ambassadors for the nature children
Heart-friendships for the children in nature
After months of electronic communication exchange we met from May 3-5, 2019 in the elephant stream forest in Zurich. Finally the people could take each other in their arms who share the same enthusiasm. It was with great joy that we immediately formed friendly bonds that were characterized by harmony. The initially electronic encounters developed into genuine heartfelt friendships on the spot, which want to create a common nourishing ground for the future of children in nature around the world. At the beginning of the conference a meditation wobbled the common connection across all continents and connected our thoughts, hearts and wills with the earth to be active together for the children of the world: Hand in hand.
Photoslideshow with moments from the conference
The fire combined with the heartbeat of humans
Words that reflect the broad meaning of emotions, connectedness, gratitude and mutual nutritious exchange are the new stories that have emerged over the weekend and that go beyond the classical understanding of a conference.
The conference unfolded through the attentive, equal and great work and sharing of all participants. In our closing ceremony we started a fire together in an archaic way with woods, with our burning enthusiasm and passion.
When the external fire ignited and the flames lighted up, the inner spark of consciousness was also ignited, which enlivened the fire of the heart. So the tears of joy flowed and the feelings of happiness stimulated to take the dear people in the circle in the arm. We wish for many more encounters of this kind to melt the ice in people’s hearts and to remember that we are all connected, with each other and with Mother Earth’s web of life.
Photo slideshow of the closing ceremony
The conference guests came from many European countries, such as Botswana or Egypt and most of all from Chile and Ladakh (North India) and South Korea. It was a great honour for us that the participants from 24 countries travelled to the forest of WaKiTa Zurich and immersed themselves with us in the comprehensive world of nature education.
The teaching that makes the visible pattern of nature visible and forms a visible bridge to nature. We were able to give gifts to the participants and were also richly rewarded by them.
“Feeling at home” is a compliment to the firebird
When the participants of their excursions on Saturday afternoon from the “Waldkinder Zürich”, “Chäferfäscht”, “Stadtgeiss” and “Troll Waldkinder” came back to us in the forest to eat and said: “This is like coming home”, it was one of the best compliments for us.
Photoslideshow from the excursions
The firebird rituals and mediations were an important part of the program. Being out in nature with the firebird and being connected to each other in such a way that everyone feels at home.
Photoslideshow... just feel at home
Authentic means 100% pure nature
The weather this weekend, with rain, snow, sleet, wetness, cold and sunshine, was authentic for the work for which the heart of the 250 people at the conference beats. 100% nature through all seasons, the trees were our friends and we danced with the elements fire, water, earth and air to the drum sounds of the Djembe, the drums from West Africa, whose corpus is made of a of a hollow tree trunk. So the winter temperatures in May, the human warmth below could not harm the guests. The participants, who have come as professionals in their work, have shown that they can make a 100% conference in nature a great event. Until long into the night they sat around the campfires and sang to the earth sounds of the music. Together all supported each other in the language for mutual understanding and had hands on when they were needed.
Photoslideshow with 100% Nature
Freedom means assuming responsibility out of passion and enthusiasm
We celebrated organic food, naturally on site, freshly prepared in the fire kitchen. Our 50 volunteers formed a unit and were the backbone of this event. The praise songs for the fire kitchen crew were inspiring for their great work and the excellent taste of the menus. It was the traditional fire coffee in the afternoon that led the many-sided conversations in the right direction. Each and every one of our helpers was able to make an effective contribution without the need for previous sessions. It is the philosophy of the firebird to take responsibility in his freedom out of passion and enthusiasm and to bring in his own personality. We are indebted to the 50 helpers for having lived the firebird philosophy so excellently and for having helped us to make this conference a success. We were amazed at what gifts and talents each of them had and how this potential was expressed at the conference. “At the end of the conference we realized we had 3 first aid kits that we had never used, not even a plaster,” said Chantal Marty from the Firebird Secretariat, who as a mother with her toddler in a sling, experienced the whole event in a relaxed manner, to the admiration of many participants.
The suitcase market with its tangible ideas invited the participants to stop by parallel to the workshops. The exhibitors offered lovingly designed suitcases with practical, tangible, creative and instructive ideas for working with people in nature. The unusual ideas were felt, clay, carved, knitted, cooked, spiced, knitted, sewn, written, potted, burnt and knotted.
Photoslideshow of our helpers and suitcase market
The conference cup as a symbol of solidarity
The Zurich Youth Hostel team brilliantly coordinated our guests, as 2/3 of our participants were accommodated there. Feedback such as: “I have never stayed in such a beautiful youth hostel before” was gladly forwarded to the team. The lightness of the conference and the good atmosphere could be felt in the youth hostel’s lounge and during the bus transfers. “The conference cup on the backpack is like our scallop,” said participants, “we recognize each other immediately and know who belongs to us on the bus! The enamel cup with the stroke “Children of nature worldwide hand in hand” was the gift to all participants that they received as a souvenir. When we heard that even thirty cups were bought for students to South Korea, we were very happy that this symbolic gift will draw more circles.
Photoslideshow - the conference cup
Children’s Festival on the International Day of the Forest Kindergarten
We euphorically think back to our conference, for which much has been achieved so far. When the starting shot was fired on Friday afternoon with the opening of the children’s festival, in which over 150 families took part, everything we had wished for and for which our inner fire burns flowed into this event. At the children’s festival there was music and songs with Marius Tschirky from the Jagdkapelle, Claudio from the WaKiTa in Zurich and the “Wurzelwerk” musicians of the Waldkinder St. Gallen. Of course, the song “I am a woodkid” could not be missing either. The song is now available in 20 languages!
Photoslideshow of the children festival
Workshops and presentations by the ambassadors
The 21 ambassadors of the natural children from 17 countries contributed significantly to the high quality of the conference with their appreciative workshops. The ambassadors are those who took part in the launch of the Forest Kindergarten Movement in their countries and symbolically represented it in Zurich. Thanks to their many years of experience and deep professional knowledge, they were the basis for building friendships and heart relationships. The two spontaneous Earlybird workshops on Sunday morning by Marina Robb (England) and Leyla Aribas Stahlschmidt (Turkey) at 8am were also well attended.
”I have always believed that self discovery and experiences in nature are the best teachers. I’m grateful to have met so many inspiring, empowering colleagues. We had lots of exciting moments, interesting conversations and most of all shared amazing experiences.”, said Rania Omar from Egypt.
Photo slideshow through the ambassadors’ workshops
Euphoria is the foundation for new projects
There is already an outlook for the next goals after the conference. At the conference on Saturday morning we were invited to the ‘World Wood Café’. The cooperative Feuervogel and Professor Sonja Perren of the University of Konstanz/Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau work together with the ambassadors of the nature children in a research partnership for the nature children. Together they will define and realise future-oriented research priorities in an international context.
Outlook for new projects
We look forward to seeing our new friends again in the woods and wish them until then to carry the inner fire of enthusiasm and passion for their and all of our work to their countries.
Editorial management: Christoph Lang, Nadja Hillgruber
Editorial design and implementation: Nadja Hillgruber, www.infothek-waldkinder.org
Picture credits: Photography © Feuervogel- photographed for the firebird: Petra Bosshard, Laetizia Giannini, Christoph Lang, Linda Seewald, Natalie Wallrapp and Nadja Hilglruber
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