Training course about Natural Building for Youth

Within WaaMooM, two training courses were organised: one about Natural building and Short term activities such as workcamps, youth exchanges, workshops and another one about Natural building in long term volunteering programs. The target groups were group leaders, camp coordinators or volunteer coordinators that are already doing or are willing to implement natural building activities. Both trainings were facilitated by the same team of trainers. The general intention was to create, develop and test an “activity template” for partner organisations and others active in this field. We thought that it is important to have a common ground, understanding of the level of knowledge and skills needed, as well as minimum standards regarding safety and responsibility. 

1st training: as for the first training course, participants were involved in creating safety guidelines and program templates for youth activities with natural building as the main topic. Those templates were also used later during the Youth Exchanges that were part of the WAAMOOM project. Some of the participants not only took part in the design part but also as group leaders during the Youth Exchanges! 

The program of the training course included a combination of topics around natural building and youth leadership. The participants could learn about the Bozevce project, why natural building makes sense and what makes it different from conventional building, diversity of techniques, safety requirements at the working sites and how to handle different tools properly. They could also practise different techniques on demonstration walls. In order to be ready to coordinate youth exchanges, workcamps and ESC teams about natural building, the participants were empowered by new skills and knowledge about leadership styles and skills, soft skills, communication skills, with particular focus on non-violent communication, then group dynamics and program flows. Finally, divided in thematic groups they designed programs for future activities.

Program outline – example from WaaMooM training courses

Training course for organising YEs, workcamps, group ESC and similar international groups on natural building
Community building
Soft skills
Leadership skills
Communication skills, Non-violent communication
Addressing the needs
Designing the programs of youth exchanges, camps
Presentations of the programs/ group work
Introduction to the project, Erasmus+, YouthPass
Diversity of natural building
Structure and logistics
Mid-term evaluation
Conflict management and problem solving skills
Design continues
Open Space
Bozevce project
Safety and tools
Demonstration 2 - wattle and daub
Demonstration 3 - light straw
Demonstration 4 - earthen plastering
Evaluation / Follow up
Study visit
Why natural building make sense
Demonstration 1 - straw-bales
Closing, ceremony and certificates
dinner time
Movie screening
Introduction to permaculture
Presentations of organisations
Traditional dinner
Presentations of organisations
Free evening
Farewell party

The second training course was about long term volunteering and natural building. The objective was to host volunteer coordinators or builders and empower them with knowledge on natural building, volunteering and non-formal coordinating skills. 

The approach for the part about natural building changed, it included more links to global issues and the role of natural building as a solution for mitigation. It is very important to connect those topics: as much as natural building seems fun and inclusive it is also a responsibility for educators to show why it is necessary, and to transmit the right information. 

For the practice, there was more content about the materials themselves than the techniques. Understanding better what are the characteristics of wood, earth, straw as building materials. 

At the end of the course the participants designed long-term volunteering templates within different programs (ESC, Woofing..), based on what they have learned and their previous experiences. 

We have realised that it is hard to go into detail in such a short period, and that it is not so common to find coordinators, or builders that can make the bridge between natural building and non-formal education. For that to be developed further, natural buildings should be more visible and known by youth in general. 

Program outline – example

Training course for organising long term volunteering project in natural building
Getting to know each others
ESC - long term volunteering, inclusion projects, 4Thought for Solidarity
Coordinating volunteers & support system
Visit local ESC organisations in Kosovo and partners of GAIA
Mid-term evaluation
Addressing the needs
Inclusion and natural building
practical part
Finishing designs and presentations
Community building
Other volunteering programs
Problems & solutions in LTV programs
Open Space: everything else you would like to share & learn
Addressing the needs
Inclusion projects: case studies
practical part
presentation of group work results, feedback and congratulation time
lunch break
Introduction to the host organisation and the venue
Safety & Tools
Working with Clay & Straw
Free afternoon
Learning through volunteering & the concept of key competences
Practical part
Afternoon free - self reflection time / silent time
Designing programs for LTV and short term inclusion projects in natural building
Evaluation Follow up
Why does natural building make sense (climate crisis, environmental crisis...)
Structure and logistics
Working with Wood
Natural building and learning
Closing, ceremony and certificates
internatural evening
Presentation of natural building programs/organisations projects in different countries
Movies screening
Dinner in Ethno House in Gracanica
Evening organised by the participants (input from mid- term evaluation)
Music evening
Free evening
Farewell party