Spring 2020 should be the time of FOLM participant groups’ marching out, coming back, and beginning coaching. According to our plan, there should be a few dozens of participants from all of the countries in coaching in May, and more groups should be getting ready to march out into the wilderness of mountains and forests. Unfortunately, Covid-19 forced us to verify our plans, and many of those who had already begun hiking in their minds needed to stay home waiting for the signal that FOLM resumed training.
Thus, we have more time to have our trainers and Coaches even more prepared to meet young people, but we also have time to reminisce what has already happened in FOLM and what is being said about it from the participant point of view.
Participants’ opinions, impressions, descriptions of what has troubled them, and how FOLM helped them with changing their perceptions about life are enclosed below.
“I started this journey not knowing what to expect. As I progressed further into the mountains and getting to know my team mates better, I felt as if a weight was slowly being lifted from my shoulders. I felt my confidence returning. The silence and beauty of the mountain and sharing experience with my newfound friends gave me a natural euphoria unlike anything I had felt previously. I’ve learned to accept myself for who I am and not for what others think I should be. I needed to help myself and I have discovered that I couldn’t have achieved this alone. I can now ask for help when I need it and I know that I’m stronger for it.
FOLM gave me my voice back. It showed me that even if I fall, I have the power to get up and move forward. FOLM gave me the chance to change my life and I haven’t looked back. Working with the amazing people at FOLM has empowered me to reach for my goals. I am now going back to college in Galway for 4 years. FOLM have given me the chance to get my driving licence. They are giving me the chance to help others like myself that were lost and who are trying to find their way back. I could write a book about my time on the Knockmealdowns. But that was my journey. FOLM is here for everyone. Why don’t you contact them and start your own journey?.” Daniel from Ireland
“The FOLM experience for me was fantastic as I met new people by going on an adventure with those people for a week up the mountains. Waking up to a view of the mountains was magnificent. Learning about the outdoors from our Outdoor Trainers Ged and Peter was great. The knowledge that they both had was just unbelievable. Ged and Peter helped with me learning about myself. Helped with my confidence in myself. They were amazing to be with. The other participants who also were on the adventure were great and I made great connections with them. We worked together on finding out who we were individually. Helped each other through difficult obstacle on the adventure. We laughed together and fell down together and got back up. I have learned so much about myself. Learned that I am my own unique person. The confidence I have gained in myself is something I never thought i ever have.
I remember when they told us we weren’t allowed our phones I was absolutely freaking out as I was so worried about social media. I didn’t even miss it once it was actually a relief to just switch off from social media. The stigma of social media was something I always thought was needed to be perfect. Learned I needed to be happy with myself was what perfect was. Views of the sunrise when rose in the morning to tackle the day was breathtaking. View of the sunset before night falls before we set into out tents was breathtaking. While hiking views on our journey to our destination for the night was spectacular. We camp in a different location each night we would hike to next location each day. It was just great with really great people around me. To just be happy who I am and have so much confidence from what I learned during the week on the mountains.” Stacey from Ireland
“I started this adventure precisely for that reason, for being an adventure, one more for the pocket of all that I have lived, and to meet new people. What I didn’t know was that this was going to be one of the best adventures of my life, not one more, and those people, were placed among the best friends for life.
FOLM has taught me not to go with the preconceived notion that everyone is against me. FOLM has also helped me to acquire new socializing skills that I did not have, since before I always related in my own way. And it has helped me see that all people are more alike than they seem. Also, they have guided me on how to find stable work related to my tastes. And the treatment was super nice. I recommend everyone to experience this adventure.” Abel from Spain
“I was part of the 9 who dared to be the First group of FOLM in Cantabria. I was 2 months away from finishing my degree and I was overwhelmed at being at a point in my life that was all doubts. I didn’t know what I would get out of this but 7 days offline in the mountains with 11 complete strangers sounded like something I needed. The sensation of sleeping alone in a tent in the outdoors, of carrying in a backpack everything you will need in a week, of breathing fresh air and just seeing mountains and nature around you, of opening up so much with people who do one day you did not know, to help and let yourself be helped by your group, to become a bit wild and to feel invincible the day you reach the top. That is what I lived and living something like that makes you improve yourself and show that you are capable of everything, you just must dare.” Carlota from Spain
“There is no time to think during the day while in the woods. But when you stay alone with yourself in the evening, you wonder about everything that happened and your mind begins to put pieces together. Then, you can appreciate what you have. By meeting other participants, some of them with many issues in their lives, you may change the way you think. The trainers are well prepared for any problems or emergencies. They give us inspirational feedback that helps to look at other people and start finding answers or future goals. This project opens our eyes to our own possibilities. Although several weeks have passed since the end of the expedition, my plans are still valid. I stick to the chosen path and the coaching sessions, that I take part in, help me a lot.” Jakub from Poland
“Only the first night in the woods was actually painful for me. But a bottle of hot water in a sleeping bag can work wonders. When I think about it, I remember it was a fantastic adventure. The whole process that I went through during the FOLM project brought specific changes: I built my self-confidence and started to believe in myself, which was something that I always lacked. That’s why I took on jobs that were not for me. Thanks to the trainers and coaches I was able to plan my goals and even achieve most of them. First of all, I made my professional career a passion. I did an internship, and then I got a job at a horse farm. I also got trainer qualifications, so now I can teach how to ride in the saddle. And I love what I do. To those who do not believe that passion can be turned into a way of life, I declare: it is possible!” Anita from Poland
Opinions of the participants only strengthen our beliefs of how important FOLM is for them. We are waiting for the signal in all of the countries- Poland, Ireland, and Spain, that we can embark on our next terrain hike. On-line recruitment to the project is still active. We are constantly monitoring the decisions of the authorities to give us the green light to begin our journey into the wild.