Eco-centric development for inclusion and empowerment – Erasmus+ training course

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This training course is a unique experience created from a blend of nature immersion, personal transformation and professional development. During the training process we will explore and experience a wide variety of concepts such as eco-centric development, characteristics of youth, nature based therapeutic practices, nature connection, mentoring, emotional intelligence etc.

Through this training we support the participants in exploring these concepts within the context of their personal and professional life. The practices which will be experienced during the course will be translated into educational tools, methods and activities that can be used in the youth field, for the personal and professional development of young people.


Why do we make this project?

The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of youth workers to improve the social and professional access, participation and learning outcomes of young people from disadvantaged groups. We are reaching this aim by providing a deep experiential process which Is based on eco-centric development and nature-based learning.

Our intentions or the project objectives are:

  1. Increasing the understanding of the specifics and characteristics of young people from disadvantaged groups.
  2. Increasing the understanding of the social, professional and cultural access of young people from disadvantaged groups.
  3. Equipping 25 youth workers with professional skills to use effective and quality educational tools, methods and concepts, in order to work with young people from disadvantaged groups.
  4. Increasing the personal and professional motivation of 25 youth workers from 9 countries to work with young people from disadvantaged groups.


What is eco-centric development?

The project is based on the eco-centric development approach, which has the following principles and vision:

Authentic Human Nature: Each human has a natural / authentic way of being, consisting of talents, passions and values. At the core of each person is the Soul, the essence and uniqueness which needs to be manifested in the world.

The Nature of Involvement: Every human is seen as the architect of his own life and a thriving life requires freedom, autonomy and resilience to face the ever-changing world.

Inclusive Nature: The natural environment (the Wild Nature) is an inclusive space which stimulates the equity, acceptance and development of a healthy and whole being.

The topics and elements of the training course

  • Eco-centric and holistic development – we will explore and work with the concepts and elements of Eco-centric Developmental (The Soulcentric Developmental Wheel and The Nature Based Map of the Human Psyche, developed by the American psychologist Bill Plotkin). We will find how these tools can be used in youth work, in order to facilitate the authentic development of youth and their transition from adolescence into adulthood.
  • Connection with nature – we will spend as much time outdoors as we can. Some of the practices and activities will take place in the wild nature. We will experience activities and exercises which will facilitate a deep connection with nature, in order to experience its empowering benefits.
  • Mentoring and individual support – we will work with different concepts and techniques for mentoring and one to one work. We will practice deep listening, the art of asking questions, mirroring the stories of the people and personal tracking.
  • Self-discovery and cultivation of inner resources – the participants will go through a process of personal development which will strengthen their inner capacities and will empower them on various levels and dimensions.
  • Emotional intelligence – we will work with emotions in order to cultivate the abilities for feeling, understanding and integrating emotions. We will cultivate the empathy and the capacity for compassionate presence.


Practices and activities

During the training course we will experience a wide variety of practices such as: Nature connection, Group discussions, Individual work, The Way of Council, Presentations and analysis, Exchange of good practices, Understanding youth, Mentoring, Deep listening, Asking questions, Mirroring, Personal tracking, Reflection groups, Peer to peer learning, Experiential games, Movement and music, Embodiment, Artwork and poetry, Living as a community, Application and practice, Future cooperation etc.

When (the dates)

29th of July – Arrival day in Cluj-Napoca (no later than 16.00) and travelling to the location in the mountains.

From 30th of July to 5th of August – 7 full training days

6th of August – Departure day from the location (the departure from Cluj-Napoca should be planned after 14.00)

Location and accommodation

The program will take place in a natural area, in the Carpathian Mountains, near the village Răchițele. A village located at 850 m altitude and around 85 km from Cluj-Napoca.

We will be accommodated in two houses. At the location, there are two cabins, close to each other, a newer one and and older one. Most of the people will be accomodated in the older house. The meals will be served also there. The indoor activities will take place in the large living room of the newer house. But we expect and intend to be outside most of the time.

You will share rooms of 2-3 persons. Most of the rooms have private bathrooms, but there are some rooms which have common bathrooms. All in all we hope to have a community feeling, sharing the common spaces and being close to each other.

There is no internet connection at the location and the phone coverage is pretty limited. There are only a few areas with phone access around the houses.


The trainers team

The learning process will be guided by three trainers who are members of Dreams for Life. All of them have a rich experience in providing life changing experiences in safe, but challenging learning environments. The trainers or the “guides” of the learning process are professional youth workers, international trainers and persons with a strong background in human development, with high ethics, integrity and working principles.  The team is composed of: Bogdan Romanică, Sandra Horea and Alex Giurgea.

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Who can participate?

You can apply for this training course if you are from the following countries: Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece, Czech Republic, France, Italy and Cyprus.

The ideal participant has:

  1. RELEVANT PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: persons who have at least 1-2 years of experience in youth work and participated in at least 2 international learning mobilities. The participants should have one of the following roles: youth workers, youth leaders, educational and career counselors, teachers, general educators, trainers, mentors, coaches, educational nature guides.  The people under these roles should work directly and constantly with young people.
  2. MOTIVATION: persons who feel a strong calling to participate in this course and have strong and relevant motivation for joining the process. The motivation should be a blend of personal and professional factors. We are looking for persons who feel comfortable being in nature and who can immerse in natural learning environments.
  3. CAPACITY TO USE THE EXPERIENCE: each participant must be part of an organization/institution which relates to the project topics or is willing to incorporate them in the future activities and projects.

The ideal participant is willing to:

  • Work with nature and holistic approaches.
  • Work with youth at deeper personal levels.
  • Gain new educational practices and methods.
  • Develop future partnerships in the area of eco-centric development.
  • Develop personally and professionally.
  • Learn how to work strategically with youth.


  • The participants must be over 18 years and have a good level of English.
  • We encourage the tourist participants* not apply to this project (*By tourist participants we mean those persons who attend projects mainly to visit a new place, to socialize and have fun). This project is a very intense learning experience, which requires the dedication of each participant.


Financial conditions

Eco-centric development for inclusion and empowerment is a project financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, thus all the activities, accommodation and food are 100% covered by the EU grant. The travel costs will be reimbursed to the participants after the course in the amount limit presented in the table below.

Nr. Country Nr. of participants/country Travelling budget/person
1 Romania 4 Covered from Cluj-Napoca to the location
2 Poland 3 275 Euros
3 Bulgaria 3 180 Euros
4 Slovenia 2 275 Euros
5 Greece 3 275 Euros
6 Czech Republic 2 275 Euros
7 France 3 275 Euros
8 Italy 3 275 Euros
9 Cyprus 2 275 Euros
A total of 25 participants from 9 countries.

PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION: Each participant is invited to contribute to this course with 30 Euros.

INSURANCE: Each participant must have a comprehensive travel and medical insurance, covering both the travel and the stay from the first until the last day of the way back home. The insurance should be covered by the participants.

Application procedure and deadline

If you want to participate in this training course you have to fill in the application form available at this link:

The deadline for applications submission is 20th of June 2019 (included).

The selections results will be published within three days from the deadline.

For further details and contact

You can download the informative document Eco-centric development for inclusion and empowerment FINAL

Bogdan Romanică (Romania) – project coordinator and trainer


“You enter life a ship laden with meaning, purpose and gifts

sent to be delivered to a hungry world.

And as much as the world needs your cargo,

you need to give it away.

Everything depends on this.”

Cargo – Greg Kimura

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  • From 29th of July to 6th of August
  • Răchițele village (80 km from Cluj-Napoca)
All costs are covered by the Erasmus+ project (a small financial contribution is requested from each participant)