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German Young Naturefriends

For more information write to:
Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands, Warschauer Str. 59a, Telephone +49- (030) / 29 77 32 70 Telefax +49- (030) / 29 77 32 80, eMail: info@naturfreundejugend.de, website:
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German Young Naturefriends

The German Young Naturefriends is the independent children’s and youth branch of Friends of Nature Germany. The Naturefriends’ logo stands for solidarity among people(s) and with nature. The German Young Naturefriends operate in 16 different regional and various local groups. Many of the organisation’s events take place in one of the over 400 houses owned by the Young Nature Friends that are spread all across the country.

Trips and Holiday camps

The organisation was born in the tradition of the labour movement. Its goal has always been to offer young people meaningful activities for their spare time, regardless of their social and financial background.

Travelling abroad, as well as experiencing excitement and adventure right at your own doorstep – it’s all made possible by the trips and holiday camps offered by the Young Nature Friends. And anyone interested can join in – both members and non-members.

All our trips and holiday camps are characterized by a stress on solidarity with one another and with nature. We want participants to experience a group feeling and to be open towards new discoveries, other people and cultures; we also want them to learn to be tolerant and to take an active part. The teamers who lead the camps as our educational staff are responsible of planning the destination and agenda. Often they are just a few years older than the participants themselves and have taken part in trips offered by the Young Naturefriends before-- therefore they know very well what’s fun and exciting. We do self-catering on many of our trips. In the past, we have organized exotic and adventurous survival trips to the Thuringian Forest, cycling tours through Poland, camps on the French Atlantic Coast, as well as city tours.

Our trips are affordable and we have committed ourselves to following the guidelines of sustainable tourism. That means that our journeys very rarely involve planes, but rather bikes, sailing boats, tents, or hiking tours. We always focus on getting to know the destination and the people living there. This works extremely well during international youth exchange programmes. For the past few years we have increasingly focused on Central and Eastern European countries.

A special treat are our certificates for group leaders and tour guides: Applicants learn all about the basic functioning of groups, they learn how to plan a journey or a seminar and how to put together the programme of a holiday camp for 40 children.

Environment education and Ecology

Ecology takes centre stage with the Naturefriends. The biggest focus of the organisation – apart from nature and environment protection – is sustainability and climate protection. Getting to know and understand nature in all its complexity is a prerequisite for eco-friendly behaviour. The Young Naturefriends even go a step further: We make sure that children learn from a very early age to aquaint themselves with the world they live in. Our goal is to make a sustainable lifestyle something young people consider self-evident.

Our „Eco-Detective“ campaign encourages children to take an active approach on their environment. Out in the fields they experience nature, they classify plants, examine animals and they expose environmental scandals. Participants are awarded the title of “environment detective” and are given an ID card after successful completion of a project.

Outdoor sports and education have always played an important role for the organisation. It means enjoying nature in a very intense and healthy way, whether it is from a canoo, a bike, while hiking or while climbing. We do not focus on individuals’ performance, but rather on everyone’s own experience with nature and with their group.

Political activism

The Young Naturefriends are the best proof that politics need not be boring. As a member of a children’s or youth group there are plenty of possibilities for you to take an active part, to join in debates, to have your say and to foster change. Our organisation stands for democracy and solidarity, both on a local and a national level.

Our regional branches offer various seminars and workshops on different topics. There, the atmosphere is creative and there is always room for spontaneous ideas. We offer seminars on mediation, against racism, or on drugs, but there are also special trips or political seminars.

In the focal point of the Young Naturefriends’ political goals are justice and solidarity, and the call for humane living and working conditions for all people. We are also committed to achieving eco-friendly and socially responsible ways of producing and trading goods— which are all indicators of sustainable development.

To us sustainability means ensuring quality of life for the present and future generations. This implies creating social justice by abolishing poverty and imbalances at home and worldwide. We firmly believe that individuals need to change their ways, but we are also convinced – and that makes us stand out from all the other organisations – that globalisation and capitalism are no inescapable fate. Instead, they can – and should - be made to succumb to the needs of mankind and the environment.

The Young Naturefriends are committed to fighting racism and xenophobia. They have spoken out against moves to curtail asylum seekers’ rights and to tighten the German immigration law, and they are calling for fair treatment of foreign children and teenagers who grow up here. Our educational activities provide people with the relevant know-how and experience in the struggle against racist and inhuman tendencies in our society.

Participation

At our biannual Children’s Summit, the Young Naturefriends offer children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 a forum to discuss their wishes and demands with politicians.

We support the children’s rights for young people under 18 as laid out in the United Nations children’s rights convention. In “Kidspower”, our magazine for young people, we often report about children’s rights.

The Friends of Nature have always fought for equal rights of men and women. In our organisation, girls and boys do not encounter preset gender roles; instead, they can develop their identities and contribute to the organisation’s work in any field they want.

Germany is a country of immigration, and the share of young people with a migrant background is steadily rising. The German Young Naturefriends are open for young people with different cultural backgrounds and are strongly supporting their active contribution and integration. This includes creating better living conditions and a safe future for foreign children and teenagers who live in Germany.

Take over responsibility and have fun

Many young people become members of the Young Naturefriends because they are looking for some fun and excitement. Many got to know the organization through a trip or a holiday camp they took part in. They may have spent evenings sitting at the campfire, worked outdoors in the fields, or they may have lived in a camp with hundreds other participants. They became curious and wanted to find out more about the Young Naturefriends. Many young people are craving to be taking over some more responsibility. They want to plan and organize trips and seminars, or participate in projects, and launch political campaigns. To their surprise they often find out how much fun it can be to take over responsibility. Especially if they reach the goals they had previously set themselves in the end. Here at the German Young Naturefriends they always receive whatever support they need.

This is why the Young Naturefriends are a good place for informal learning processes. They can provide anyone with precious experience and key competencies needed in both the private and the professional life. When young people get the chance to look after the group’s budget during a holiday camp, or are in charge of children during a canoo trip, or campaign for more environment protection in a youth group this will always teach them an important lesson that is not on the school curriculum.

Becoming a member therefore means above all establishing a framework for developing and pursuing own ideas within an organisation. Young people can work on their own projects with the total liberty of deciding themselves how they want to tackle them. But they can also join others in an exciting project for a while and then move on to something completely different. These have all been reasons for young people to sign the membership. Some spend their whole lives with the Naturefriends, others are active in their youth, and yet others again might only join for the duration of a project, or they might simply go on a certain trip offered by the organization – whatever the reason for joining us: everyone is welcome.

If you want to find out more about trips, holiday activities, seminars on offer, and/or if you would like to be provided with the organisation’s materials (brochures, books, etc.) please contact:

Naturfreundejugend Deutschlands, Warschauer Str. 59a, Telephone +49- (030) / 29 77 32 70 Telefax +49- (030) / 29 77 32 80, eMail: info@naturfreundejugend.de, website: