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The outcomes of the international Baltic Sea Ambassadors summer camp

The Baltic Sea Ambassadors, Friends of the Baltic volunteers, gathered to talk about the results of the international summer camp that took place in Estonia. The ideas and materials developped at the camp will help the Ambassadors to give better Baltic Sea lessons at schools and are already changing the participants' environmental habits. In our short-range plans is a new training for future Ambassadors.

The meeting took place in St.Petersburg Ecocentrum on September, 2. The Ambassadors who take part in the project discussed the outcomes of the summer camp that Friends of the baltic held together with our Finnish and Estonian partners near the town of Sillamae, Eastern Estonia, along with the future work on the project.

A huge part of the camp was dedicated to the exchange of experience in practical environmental solutions, that are applicaple in everybody's everyday life. The camp life was as close to the nature as possible. We collected rubbish separately and made compost out of the organic matter. We saved water and used a minimum of non-natural household products. For example, the dish washing liquid was made out of pine tree ashes. The food was brought from local farmers and was prepared right at the camp. We germinated alfalfa, hemp and mung seeds in order to get sprouts that are a good vitamin-laden supplement to one's meal. Senja, a Finnish participant, reminded everyone that many common plants that are easy to find under our feet may be used for making food and different medications. For esample, nettles: me made soup out of it, added its fresh leaves to salads and made an infusion for use in the sauna - for extra fragrance and for inhalation.

As part of the sustainable agriculture and permaculture training kids learned how to make spiral seed beds and to plant seeds in guilds. A spiral bed for herbs and spices, about 2 meters long and 40 cm high, helps save space and reduce its maintenance. The sides of such a bed face different directions: on the southern slope it will be warmer than on the northern one. Under the rays of the morning sun the soil on the eastern slope will dry up faster than on the western one, and the soil at the foot of the bed will be moister than on its top. This way, on the same bed there are several areas with different microclimates, and one can locate a plant there according to the plant's specific needs. Oregano, rosemary and thyme that like hot and dry climate can be planted on the sun-bathed southern slope closer to the top. Parsley and leek that like it cool and wet can be located on the northern side.

Marina Janssen from Estonia held a special class where she taught everyone how to make a natural cosmetics without using a load of preservatives, stabilisers and other unhealthy components that can be found in nearly all mass-produced cosmetics. We used only natural ingredients such as natural butters and oils (of coconut, sunflower, olive and avocado), beeswax, water, ethereal oils and tegomusl, a natural emulgator produced by an eco company. The facial cream came out very nice with a good smell. The only thing is that you can't keep it too long, as it is a natural product without preservatives and should be treated as food.

Prijt Orav, the owner of the camping ground is only using environmentally friendly solutions in his household: natural materials for decorating the territory, makes interior design pieces and lamp shades out of old glass bottles. He makes his own wooden furniture without using nails. Many buildings on his land are made out of recycled materials.

Prijt taught the volunteers to make wooden signs, while a girl from Estonia showd everyone how to decorate then with the use of natural paints. This kind of a thing may be a good present, better than anything mass-producer straight from the store. At another class Prijt showed how to build a roof for one of his new ecohouses. The roof is made of wood that is left from some old constructions on his land. The roof is very well insulated - is consists of several layers with a natural insulator made of hay fiber and other plants.

Apart from practical classes, the participants held a training for those who would like tobe come a volunteer too and give Baltic Sea lessons at schools. In Finland the project is attracting more people from diverse backgrounds. Now they are older people that care about their region and the sea, village people who want to lead environmental information work in their neighborhoods. In Estonia the classes will traditionaly be held in youth clubs. In St.Petersburg, as per usual, the most active Baltic Sea Ambassadors are students, freshmen or seniors, who attended a training by Friends of the Baltic and then went on to hold classes in schools that are FoB partners.

Our Finnish colleagues helped future volunteers develop their speaking and performing talents with the help of an organized discussion, short speeches by everyone on a random subject. For example, there was a task to speak for 3 minutes non-stop about a found nature object. Also, there was a role playing game where all represent different stakeholders in the area of the Baltic Sea protection, such as local people, fishermen, flora and fauna species and local businesspeople.

Russian volunteers Egor and Nastya showed simple ways of using natural indicators (such as red cabbage) in order to test the water's PH, as well as simple tests that they used when giving classes to the smallest kids. For example, if you dissolve a certain amount of salt in the water and then put an egg in therem the egg will float in the middle, right where the salinity changes. This is a simple way to tell even the samll kids about the halocline in the Baltic Sea which one of its key features.

Besides, the camp let the participants more opportunity for self-organization compared to the prevoius camp. Kids could chose which lectures or workshops to take part in, voted for each day's program and shared their own experience of volunteer work and their own best practices with eachother. Some of them found this type of a "free" program very unusual, but all agreed that a bigger opportunity to approve oneself works towards bigger self-motivation for further work and makes the kids even more interested in all sorts of new environmentl solutions that may be copied and used in their own lives.

The next camp, as planned, will take place in Finland. meanwhile, Friends of the Baltic together with the experienced volunteers are preparing the next training for new Ambassadors which will take place in the beginning on October.

If you would like to take part in a training or your school wants to receive our volunteers please contact the project coordinator Ekaterina Uspenskaya (Tel:(812)312-79-44).

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