In 2016, USVH started a nature-based kids’ club and initiated a partnership between Óríon and Selasetur Íslands. The name Húnaklúbburinn was decided by the kids who were interested in joining Húnaklúbburinn. Funding for the club is supported by a national grant (Rannis: Icelandic Youth Fund) and grants through Húnaþings vestra. Since February 2016 Húnaklúbburinn has met once a month. Our last meeting for this year will be held on 14 October 2017 and USVH has applied for new funding for 2018.
The Icelandic Seal Center serves as a consultant for the theoretical part of the program development while U.S.V.H. runs Húnaklúbburinn. The club has three key elements: environmental education, nature-based recreation, and the arts; and is founded on two philosophical constructs; 1) children have the right and responsibility in shaping their own futures and the futures of their communities (UNICEF 1990); and 2) children develop a genuine appreciation of the natural environment, and a sense of their own competence, through direct interaction with nature. The main objectives are to 1) encourage an environment where children are actively learning about the environment and climate change; 2) create an atmosphere where children are encouraged to learn about other cultures and their histories (added for 2018); and 3) to establish lifelong friendships and lifelong learning. The goals of Húnaklúbburinn are to help youth develop an awareness of the role that they play in environmental stewardship while also learning about how their culture is interconnected with the natural environment. The aims are to cultivate a respect for nature using place-based environmental education, where students can learn about how to preserve and protect the environment; and that they are able to express these concepts to others through several mediums such as social media, photography and the arts, and language and writing.
Húnaklúbburinn pedagogical philosophy emphasizes a student-centred, active learning approach where the group leaders fulfil the role as facilitator. We focus on students being active in constructing their understanding of knowledge through discovery, exploration, experimentation, and developing and testing hypotheses. Húnaklúbburinn students will take part in projects that will build on previous knowledge learned in schools and build new knowledge through the use of nature, culture, and outdoor recreation.
Nature-based programs such as Húnaklúbburinn have a significant impact on children’s emotional and cognitive development, as well as their physical abilities. For example, children will develop a better sense of identity as they learn how to interact with others to work as a team. Children will also develop their self-esteem as they become skilled in nature-based recreation and learn how to express this to their peers. Children’s relationships with people, nature, and ideas are at the core of this project which will help them to develop the skills needed to become future leaders of their community.