First Fresh Planning Weekend Impressions! Brought to you by Henrique Gonçalves!

There is something special about attending IYNF events and it starts with a travel. Every journey is a unique experience, the unknown places that are being drawn in our ways by the speed of the train, while our eyes are gazing at the landscapes, houses and towns until we finally reach the venue.

For an international organization like IYNF it is usual to have every activity in a different place or country. Factors like location, food choices and facilities are always considered in the choice of a new setting. This time, exceptionally, the chosen place was the Naturfreundehaus Grafhorn, near Hanover, where IYNF left a trace in the beginning of this year. The decision of repeating a place shows how special are its bucolic surroundings that seems to keep attracting the outsiders. Located in the point where the vastness of the green open fields meet a forest of ancient trees, from where the mist is wandering every morning like it was exhaled by the nature. Even more heart-warming is the amazing hospitality and kindness, offered by the local Naturefriends running the house and the wonderful staff, that made everyone feel welcome and at home. Despite its remoteness, people from the near villages follow the road to Grafhorn every day, coming for the comfort and the amazing local food – mostly elders that didn’t hesitate to greet us each time they saw us.

It was in this inspiring scenario that the Planning Weekend 2013 was held from 20th to 24th of November. The event brought together representatives of member and partner organizations, volunteers and trainers, providing them the opportunity to exchange ideas, network and brainstorm on the upcoming projects and future developments of IYNF network.

Supported by the German Young Naturefriends and Germany Ministry of Families, Seniors, Women and Youth, the 2013 edition was amazingly facilitated by Friedrich Köckert and Vika Matuzaite, with the support of IYNF Secretariat and the Presidium, who worked constantly, making this meeting one of the most successful and fruitful events in the IYNF recent past.

A solid programme was built under the IYNF Year of Action for Change topic, and this time the goal was to discuss strategies for bringing positive changes to the Naturefriends movement as well to the world.

The participants were offered with a diversity of methods, highlighting the project planning where discussion, brainstorming and projects were proposed for the upcoming year. The participants could also enjoy team building and creative exercises; workshops and debates; outdoor activities; self-reflection time and even some volunteering work supporting the venue. For the newcomers it was possible to get to know more about IYNF partners and member organizations, as well as to inform themselves about the possibilities given by Naturefriends network.

The approach used during the sessions, strengthened the relations among IYNF members and partners. Encouraging the cooperation of the organizations and volunteers in developing international projects and pointing out new strategies and priorities for the future of the Young Naturefriends.

The future of IYNF had a big role in the agenda, considering that 2014 will be a crucial year for the organization with the General Assembly and Presidium elections, but also the changes happening on the European level for Education and Youth Work, a new programme that will certainly require new strategies and cooperation.

During the final evaluation, a feeling of joy, hope and satisfaction was unanimous among the participants. The activities, the facilitation, the venue and a great team spirit, were the topics emphasized by everyone present. It was a perfect combination of place, people and programme that resulted in good diversity of projects, ideas and discussion that will hopefully flourish and bring good benefits for the future of IYNF and its members.

As usual, an IYNF meeting ended with a fundraising party. The kindness, the solidarity and enjoyment dominant during the whole event were extended to the last evening with “Travel with Respect Auction”, this time a generous amount was donated to the “No Trees – No Life” Project in Gambia.

Click here for more pictures: (Facebook page)