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Nature Notes VOl 2: A youth adventure in the wild

The video with our song is at the end of the blog post!


Last Sunday marked the end of an amazing 5-day adventure called Nature Notes in Lankau, in the north of Germany. I had the pleasure of co-leading this youth creative week, which aimed to reconnect young people with themselves, with others, and with nature through music and play.

The event was offered by Tontalente e.V. and organized by three amazing colleagues, Fabienne Haßlöwer, Anja Kitzing, and myself. Our goal was to help these youngsters create core memories supported by nature and around nature, with the emotional component of collective music-making. We hoped that this would inspire them to step into their leadership and stand up for nature, by training their creativity, using their love for nature, and helping them realize that it's the strength of people working together that can create incredible changes for the future.

Our headquarters for the week was the Schullandheim Haus Lankau, a fantastic location to be creative. With lots of chill rooms, a winter garden, and access to the canal, we had the house to ourselves, which can accommodate almost 100 people simultaneously. And of course, we took advantage of the location and had some crazy hide-and-seek sessions!

Our location was in the middle of the forest, within walking distance of a beautiful lake that has the shape of a heart, and a water canal that guides you almost everywhere. However, we did encounter some obstacles due to the weather, which didn't let us be outside all the time. But we used that time to be creative and playful, exploring what we could do with music, even though many of our participants had never had music-making experience.

One of our biggest challenges was the language barrier. Four of our participants were newcomer youngsters who fled from their countries and were still adapting to their new life, including learning the incredibly difficult German language. It was hard for us, at the very beginning, to understand their needs and sometimes even their frustration due to the fact that the internet was limited at our location and because of not being able to communicate their needs in connection with their practice of Ramadan at the moment. But with time, we had the most heart-opening conversation with lots of translation, repetition, and nonverbal communication. That conversation from heart to heart was really something I'll never forget because it brought us and the boys so much closer, and they just opened up. From that moment on, they were searching for contact with us, and we just goofed around all the time and connected in ways beyond the language. To give you an example whenever we by chance were sitting next to each other; one of them would just lean on my arm or rest their head on my shoulder. From then on, we were super connected.




The first day was all about getting to know each other and exploring our surroundings and our home base. Right away, we started discovering what was possible when we grabbed a music instrument and used it in totally unconventional ways to get super strange sounds. By freeing ourselves from the rules of how instruments need to be played and how music needs to sound, we started to create instant music, letting ourselves be carried by the group. We created a sound machine and a super funny sound orchestra. On that day, we also searched for a connection with the nature around us and found a natural element to connect which would inspire us to draw our own power symbols. In smaller groups, we were able to fuse those creations and present sound pieces or visual pieces to the whole group. And at night, we had the most epic hide-and-seek competition in that massive youth house and with the running and hide the flag game I bumped my arm against a door frame so hard that it swole, but it was totally worth it.

On day 2 of our nature retreat, we were encouraged to explore our creativity and connect with nature. It was a beautiful day, and we had a long hike through the forest and spent the morning playing music and rhythmic games to bring the group together. We sat under tall trees in a drumming circle and felt the wind, which was incredibly refreshing and invigorating. The idea was to connect with nature by establishing a collective beat.


In the afternoon, the group asked me to lead an improv theater session, which was hilarious. We used one of my story telling methods to create micro super crazy stories in small groups, improvising to act them out. The stories included Michael Jackson, UFOs, and castaway stories, and it was truly out of this world. Later that evening, we sat by the fire and they went on and danced all night and shared awesome stories the next morning.

On day 3, we started with a warm-up before embarking on a canoe trip. We raced and sang an upbeat Caribbean song together, holding our canoes together and letting ourselves be drifted by the current. It was a beautiful moment of connection, and we were all so grateful to be in such a stunning natural environment.


Later in the day, we began working on our song. We thought deeply about what we needed to light our fire, and we came up with some amazing ideas that we integrated into the song lyrics. For example, we recognized the importance of sleeping in until late or wearing clothes that make you feel great. It was a great combination of cool band sections (thanks to some incredibly talented young musicians in the group) and amazing melodies and songwriting and the collection of sounds from nature which we used to build a beat.

As the sun began to set, we sang by the water and just enjoyed being together in a relaxed environment. Later in the evening, we had a bonfire where we invented songs and grooves for each one of us (the drumming went on for at least an hour non-stop). Later they started a sort of dance I've never experienced before! Spinning around the fire running full speed with music coming from a Bluetooth speaker! I guess you would have to be there to get the picture! It was such a powerful experience of connection and empowerment, and we were all grateful for the opportunity to bond with each other and with nature.

On the fourth day, we started with a recovery session to slowly ease into the day. We took the time to record our song and also made an "in the nature" version, which we recorded as well. Later, we chilled in the forest and found a beautiful sunny spot near the canal. Then, it was time for the most amazing pull the rope competition ever, which led us to a beautiful thankful session where we gave symbolic gifts to each other and bonded in the most beautiful way (tears of happiness flowed and hugs and gratitude).


Later that night, we had a night walk in the forest and sang under the moon by the water. Of course, the party that night was epic, with salsa dancing, Kurdish music, and snacks. The group stayed until 4:30 in the morning dancing like maniacs, and they told us all about it the next morning. And you won’t believe how nice these teens were, they actually cleaned up and left the room shining before going to bed! How amazing they are!

The last day was a time to be thankful and play our song for our hosts before saying our goodbyes until next time. Throughout the creative week, we had helped these youngsters to create core memories together, supported by music, nature, and their own creativity. We empowered them to step into their leadership, step out of their comfort zone, and open their hearts to people they probably never imagined connecting with before. They all got the chance to be leaders of the group. From being the party DJs and hipping the whole group, to playing the drum non-stop to enable the dancing and improvised songs and stories, to teaching Kurdish culture and dance, to translating and making sure no one was left behind, to pushing the group to be more in the nature and in movement, to being an emotional support to each other during the week, to leading activities themselves. They had the opportunity of having a week where they were the ones who decided what to do, how to behave, how to be themselves and not receive instructions and rules from others. And you know what? They shined, they made the right decisions, they cared for each other and they CREATED THEIR OWN COMMUNITY, and they were strong.

Our mission was to spark a flame deep inside that will never extinguish, a flame made out of natural elements that has its home in nature, and is based on emotions and deep connection. We hope that they will continue to spread the love for our natural world and use their creativity to contribute to the recuperation of this marvelous world.

I am incredibly proud of them, and my faith in humanity, and most of all in the next generation, has been restored. I am missing them already and I hope to work hard so that we can create the conditions to meet again and bring new participants, strengthening this bond supported by nature, amazing people, music, and creativity. Together, we can make a difference and create a better world for ourselves and for generations to come.


And here it is! Our video!






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