Osbert Lancaster © 2015

Natural Change Hungary at Kisújbánya – September 2105. Photo: Osbert Lancaster © 2015

A few weeks ago, Richard, Osbert, Rob and I spent a week leading a Natural Change course in the forests of southern Hungary. The course was part of a project organised by the Pandora Association in Hungary, with partners from Romania, Italy, Spain, Liechtenstein, Germany and the Czech Republic. It was funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. There were 22 participants from the partner nations and the course took place at Kisújbánya, in a vast area of woodland about three hours drive due south of Budapest.

We worked in two groups of 11 for the first four-days, with Osbert and Richard leading one group and Rob and I leading the other. The last two days were spent exploring theory and facilitation techniques, done working as a whole group and in smaller groups and pairs.

We had perfect weather and everything when to plan. But in many ways it was also a hard week because we were working in an area we didn’t know, with English as a second language. We were also holding a large group between us and leading the programme as a team. The areas we had to work in were limited by the local hunting season and there was a curfew before 0800 and after 1600 in most areas each day! But with the help and support of our local host we managed to find enough space to have 22 people out on solo from dawn until dusk.

Despite the challenges, we had a fabulous time! Such a dedicated, open and passionate group of youth workers and leaders. Everyone engaged fully and whole-heartedly with the process and the week unfolded in a profound and powerful way. As ever, the highlight for me were the stories told after the solo. Such a graceful and grounding experience. As part of the project, there is a blog where participants are posting reflections on their experience. You can visit it here >>

I’d like to thank Rich, Osbert and Rob for the amazing work they did. It was the first time any of them had run a whole Natural Change ‘core’ process. Seeing them facilitate so beautifully – and with such passion and commitment – was a threshold moment for me. I’ve waited a long time to see that happen. Thank you.