Czecho-Slovak Forest Camp recalled the common traditions of Czech and Slovak forestry
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Czecho-Slovak Forest Camp recalled the common traditions of Czech and Slovak forestry

Slovakia, 3rd August 2018
Author: Rudolf Navrátil, National Forest Centre, Slovakia

I n the first week of July, 40 Slovak and Czech children spent a common week in beautiful countryside near the Czech and Slovak border. The forest pedagogy brought together Slovak and Czech forest pedagogues to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Czechoslovakia.

The year 2018 is exceptional for both countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia (October 28, 1918), the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring and the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Although the former Czechoslovakia peacefully split up in 1993 into independent republics, their continued collaboration and friendship is still flourishing to this day. Thus, the 100 year anniversary is reminded by all areas of social life in both countries, which in 1918-1992 represented the former Czechoslovakia.

The Slovak and Czech forest pedagogues have therefore jointly decided to organize a Czecho-Slovak Summer Forest Camp for children from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The camp was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic and The Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic. The main organizer of the event was the National Forestry Centre in Slovakia and the partners on the Czech side were the Association of Forest pedagogues of Czech Republic and the Forests of the Capital City of Prague. The forest camp was held in the Centre of forest pedagogy and recreation Antonstál operated by State enterprise Forests of the Slovak Republic. This colossal historical building of this Hunting Castle is situated in nature of Biele Karpaty Mountains in Slovakia. The building demonstrates a common Czecho-Slovak forestry and hunting traditions. Even due to the proximity of the Czech-Slovak border (12 km), this castle was chosen as the place of the forest camp.

The aim of the forest camp was to familiarize the young generation with a common forestry history as well as to increase the active control and use of both languages. And the forest pedagogy activities were the main educational tools. 40 young Slovaks and Czechs (aged 10-12 years) and 10 forest pedagogues spent a holiday week in surrounding beech forests. With the help of forest pedagogues the children discovered forest ecosystems, identified tree species, different types of plants and animals. They have learned the basics of forestry work, the tools and equipment of the foresters and how to provide the first aid in the forest. Of course the camp was not only about the learning but mainly about the fun. The children experienced the atmosphere of the night forest, they were sporting and competing in “Forestry Olympic Games” or “Czecho-Slovak's Got Talent”. Children and forest pedagogues enjoyed common barbecue, were singing Slovak and Czech songs and the forest camp anthem. Especially, trips on both sides of the border were very appreciated by the children. They visited The Trenčín Castle and Štefánik's Monument on Slovak side and Museum of Forestry and Hunting, Forestry educational path Buchlov and the Freshwater and botanical exhibition of the Morava River - Živá voda on the Czech side.

The forest camp also contributed to the improvement of children's communication in both languages. According to recent surveys, mainly children from the Czech Republic have less understanding of the Slovak language. Forest linguistic puzzles, forest riddles as well as the contests in words translation have been a popular fun form of learning both languages

By the various funny ways and forest pedagogy activities children were establishing new friendships and discovering the nature and common history and traditions. The forest camp confirmed that the forest pedagogy is a good way to build respect for nature and the environment and to connect people to each other. Czech and Slovak forest pedagogues believe that, by the first Czecho-Slovak summer forest camp a new tradition has been established and they will meet again in a year, this time maybe on the Czech side.