Learning about nature, geology and the heritage of the Ice Age in the unique environment of UNESCO Global Geopark. Geo Camp Schools and Geofood workshops organised in Rokua Geopark are ideal ways to study environmental topics and sustainable development while experiencing the fascinating Nordic nature.
Educational tourism is a new trend in Rokua Geopark. Environmental educator Mikko Kiuttu from Rokua Geopark has been developing educational products in close cooperation with the local businesses. New thematic products are constantly being developed to meet the needs and requests of the customers.
”The story of Rokua Geopark and the heritage of the Ice Age is based on environmental changes. The past climate variation, present climate change and their meaning through geological time can be recognized here very clearly. Through them, we can ponder our own role and possibilities to influence this change”, Kiuttu states.
The educational products are coordinated by accommodation providers such as Rokua Health & Spa Hotel, which offers for example a popular Geofood workshop. The workshop familiarizes with local food production respecting criteria of an international Geofood label. In the workshop, customers prepare seasonal delicacies and learn about local food, organic production and natural ingredients.
Camp schools bring students close to nature and its diversity
The programs of camp schools are built from a variety of activities and educational contents. Camp schools can be tailored according to requested emphasis on the themes or level of teaching. Usually the main topics are first introduced indoors, followed by the practical part outdoors.
An easy-level approach is usually implemented in form of guided tours and nature hikes. It is also possible to pick berries and mushrooms or build bird nests with a guide. A deeper insight on the themes can be achieved through scientific exploration methods, measurements and analyses.
”Educational contents may include geological diversity, species richness, water quality or water cycle for instance.”
Through phenomenal learning and observations one can learn for example about sustainable development, ecosystems and geological time. Topics like the origin and usage of different raw materials as well as one´s possibilities to influence the environment are also discussed during the camp schools.
Unforgettable experiences and learning in Nordic nature
The beautiful landscape of Northern Finland and the unique nature of Rokua Geopark bring the experiences of learning into a new level.
”The four seasons and especially winter are fascinating themes and a fabulous environment for learning. We are observing wintery phenomena and discussing meanings of snow for the nature. This is how we get a deeper look into the wintery landscape”, states Kiuttu.
The best feedback on the courses is when the same customers and tour operators return with new groups. The tranquillity of the place has also gained a lot of positive feedback, and many times also the local guides have a chance to experience the nature in a new light, thanks to the excited reactions of the customers. Kiuttu looks back to a moment when he was leading a listening exercise in forest with a student group from Hong Kong.
”There was a woodpecker nearby. I pointed its location and imitated its voice but they couldn’t recognize it. Their senses were apparently adjusted to very different surroundings. We went to a depression between sandy hills and stayed quiet for a while, only listening to the almost completely quiet forest – only wind was buzzing in trees and couple of birds were singing somewhere far. At first, it was difficult to get the students quiet, but in the end, I almost couldn’t get them to leave. Their behaviour obviously changed. According to the feedback, the experience was very special and unique for the students and the teachers as well, and among the best experiences during the camp.”