Wilderness Tracking: Cooperation with the SOS Kinderdorf Berlin


The SOS Kinderdorf Berlin is involved in three cooperating schools in the Berlin district of Moabit. Taking into account the particular social and cultural circumstances of the young people and their families, social workers provide support with preventative and intervention programmes directly at the schools.

The collaboration with the SOS Kinderdorf led to three groups from the Carl-Bolle Primary School starting their participation in the Wilderness Tracking in the fall of 2021. The groups regularly met with our wilderness mentors in Volkspark Rehberge, accompanied by social workers from the school. Initially, it took some time for the children to warm up to the program and the new mentors. Later, there were great moments and the children made wonderful progress.

In summary, it can be noted that the experiences had an absolutely positive effect on the children. Over a period of about 1.5 years, the children have visibly developed sensitivity and openness to being in green spaces. The children have learnt to know and appreciate nature and many of its characteristics.

In September 2023, a 5th and a 6th grade class of the Theodor Heuss Community School started their participation in the wilderness tracking. All participants – children, teaching staff, employees of the SOS Kinderdorf – were immediately enthusiastic after the first event.

After just a few sessions, the feedback on the Wilderness Tracking has been extremely positive. The children are having fun and are able to engage well with the tours, learning playfully about nature and various animal species. Our wilderness mentor Rüdiger and his team were again able to quickly establish a connection with the groups. The foundation is pleased with the collaboration and wishes the children great experiences in nature.

Positive developments and lessons learned

⭐ Children became increasingly open towards the wilderness mentors
⭐ Children enjoyed the attention and encouragement
⭐ Positive experience of physical interactions within the framework of mindful holding, lifting, and strength measuring between the children and the wilderness mentors
⭐ Children gave very positive feedback in school and spoke enthusiastically about their experiences
⭐ Long-term improvement in group dynamics observed. Children could engage more with nature after repeated sessions (initially overcoming the hurdle of sitting on bare forest ground, for example)
⭐High interest in climbing opportunities and balance course
⭐ Walking barefoot in the grass was a completely new experience for some children and had a calming effect on the group
⭐ Children react very negatively to withered, dusty forest soil (June) and with outrage to littered and trampled bushes
⭐ Very good basic mood

Special occurrences

✅ Development of an idea for a fireplace
✅ Discovery of a dead fox including exploration of the site
✅ Walking barefoot in solidarity in the group after a child got wet shoes on the lakeshore (walking barefoot in the grass was new for some children)
✅ Sighting of bird nests and rabbits
✅ Sighting of a turtle in the wild
✅ Traces of people attract attention (tent, smell of faeces, rubbish, etc.)
✅ Interesting explorations by the water (Plötzensee)


❌ Listening to each other or allowing each other to speak out
❌ Engaging with new, unfamiliar things (threshold of hesitation)
❌ Tendency towards physical confrontations (mainly after the start of the program)
❌ Difficulty concentrating after about two hours
❌ Some of the children in one group were tired
❌ During stealth games, some students had trouble staying quiet for an extended period and focusing on the task
❌Interruptions/provocations by individual children led to displeasure/frustration in the rest of the group

Quotes from the social workers/teachers

🗨️ “The children were eager to participate.”
🗨️ “Some students were fascinated by the view through the binoculars.” (When a bird’s nest and rabbits were spotted)
🗨️ “The goal is for the children to spend time outdoors and have different experiences in nature than they are used to in their everyday lives.”
🗨️ “Guidance is very responsive to needs.”
🗨️ “Very positive feedback from the children.”
🗨️ “Particularly, games and wrestling create fun for the kids.”
🗨️ “There was a great appreciation for this time and for being outside in good weather.”
🗨️ “The different types of vegetation are also consistently impressive to the children.”
🗨️ “At the beginning, there were still some children who were extremely hesitant and cautious about walking barefoot. In the final round, the same children said how much they enjoyed it and that it was really nice.”

Participating groups from the Carl-Bolle Primary School:
➔ 3 groups from 2nd and 5th grades (2021/2022)
➔ 2 groups from 2nd grade (2022/2023)
Participating groups from the Theodor Heuss Community School:
➔ 5th and 6th grades (since September 2023)
Location: Moabit, Berlin
Сooperation with: SOS Kinderdorf Berlin

With the generous support of the German Postcode Lottery

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