Visionary Guide Training

A funded facilitation training course for young adults (18-30) who aspire to tackle the root causes of injustice via nature connection, ecological imagination and experiential learning.

Course Overview

This funded 6-month training (part-time) will equip you to guide children and young people to develop their relationship with nature, and inspire them to look towards a liberated, equitable and regenerative future.

Places are very limited and will be assigned by Course Faculty, with support from our youth panel, as per the criteria outlined below.

Got questions? Feel free to contact us at hello@thevisionaries.org.uk

Deadline for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 31st January 2024

We know that we cannot address the climate and nature crises without also addressing injustice and inequity in the environment sector

You Will Learn How To -

Is This Course For You?

This training course has been designed to help young adults from marginalised communities (and those early in their careers) to access and impact systems change within the environmental and education sectors.

Our goals are to help those who may have had to face additional barriers in life to establish and develop themselves as guides for young people, to learn to facilitate young people to see themselves as part of nature and to change the way environmental education happens.

You will have some or all of:

We welcome applicants from under-represented groups within the environmental sector, such as racialised identities, differently-abled, LGBTQI+, experience of care, long term health conditions, working class background or any other forms of marginalisation (e.g. homelessness, time in probation).

A new community, venturing into the wilderness of education and nature-connection work together.

Education can, and must, become a tool for social liberation and ecological regeneration.

Course Content & Logistics

We want to tackle the barriers to knowledge in our field. This course will provide you with access to a robust and practical nature-related curriculum, with plenty of room for practical experiences and implementation

Science shows that we learn best through teaching others, so this course is rooted in experiential learning i.e. you will spend significant time facilitating and guiding others.

You will also get wraparound good help; personalised professional coaching; space for structured self-reflection; and a supportive and encouraging peer community.

We’re excited to build on the success and learning from Year 1, offering a renewed course structure and content, informed by all the collective wisdom of our pioneering inaugural cohort! You can read more about their journey in this 2023 VGT Impact Report.

Course Elements

The course involves blend of online & in-person delivery, and is designed to be accessible to no matter where in the UK you live.

The content is delivered over three Core Modules (Roots, Branches, Mycelium) and includes:

Time Commitment

A commitment to attend all programme elements is essential. You will be required to have attended and completed at least 80% of the course modules and events to graduate.

Considerations

Participant Testimonials

All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don't, our lives get made up for us by other people.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

Meet The Faculty

Faiqa Amreen
Programme Coordinator, Education Lead.

Faiqa is an educator, historian and lover of the wilderness. After spending over a decade working in schools in New York City and London, Faiqa transitioned to working collaboratively with schools, educators and young people. She is proud to be working towards increasing intersectionality in natural spaces and is currently the Education Lead at The Visionaries.

max profile

Max Girardeau
Wilderness Guide

Max is a radical educator and facilitator who is passionate about creating powerful encounters for eco-centric learning. His approach draws on eco-psychotherapy, embodiment practices, cultivating imagination and deep nature connection. He is a trauma-informed practitioner, wilderness rites of passage guide, having trained with The School of Lost Borders, a qualified Mountain Leader and a bio-leadership fellow.

nikki profile

Nikki Levitan
Wellbeing Practitioner

Nikki is a coach, wellbeing practitioner and mother following an unschooling pathway. She has worked for over 20 years with young people in both formal and informal settings inc as a forest school leader.

Natalie Vickers
Wilderness Guide, Ceremonialist.

Natalie is trained in complementary health and earth medicine traditions and a wilderness and vision quest guide through the School of Lost Borders. As a ceremonialist, member of the educational team at Braziers Park, and founder of Wild and Home, Natalie is dedicated in offering nature’s wisdom through experiential learning.

Marina Robb
Outdoor Curriculum Provider

Marina is Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, author of ‘Learning with Nature’ and ‘The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy'
(considered must-have books for Forest School & Outdoor practitioners). Marina is the creator and host of the online Nature Skills curriculum.

The Visionaries Guiding Values

This training, and all of our work at The Visionaries is informed by these five commitments:

Deepen our relationship with nature* – ‘the place where all of life begins and ends’

Nature = our bodies, our transpersonal relationships, the more-than-human world

  • We are nature; within, in-between, and beyond us.
  • We can’t care for something we don’t have a positive relationship with.
  • Beyond a W.E.I.R.D. (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, Democratic) story of mechanistic control and alienation are living systems, complexity, and indigeneity

  • Recognise health is interconnected – mine, yours and the planet’s.
  • Notice that we do all exist in relationship with everything and everyone.
  • Know that we all move towards health or unhealth, in every moment.

  • Anyone and everything is welcome, we all hold a fragments of the whole.
  • Diversity is a reason for curiosity, celebration and growth.

  • When we stop learning, we stop living.
  • Every life stage has something to offer to the community e.g. children are not just empty vessels.

  • We are each born with unique gifts.
  • Seek to nurture these in everyone.

Watch a video introduction about The Visionaries

Take a look at photos from the 2023 Cohort…

Application Criteria

Do you have a demonstrable interest in nature connection, social justice and the outdoors?

An open mind and a hunger to learn and serve?

Then we’d love to hear from you.

Preference will be given to applicants aged 18-30 from these backgrounds:

Additionally applicants should:

If you are unsure if you match this criteria please contact us: hello@thevisionaries.org.uk

The Application Process:

(Deadline for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 31st January 2024)

Hypothetically Asked Questions

➤ Yes. Doubt is a totally normal, healthy and human response to any new opportunity. This course has been designed with beginners and those early on in their environmental and education careers in mind. You will get all of the support and time you need from us and your peers. We believe anyone with an open mind and a collaborative attitude can easily complete this training.

➤ Consent is key for us – we will never make you to do anything you don’t wish to and you will be supported to meet any challenges gently and in gradual stages .

➤ Great, we’re here to help you get experienced!
➤ We have camping gear that we can lend as necessary and will teach you how to use confidently.
➤ The things I feared most going into the camp and thought I would find most challenging, like the rain and cold, bats, slugs and bugs, and using an outdoor shower and toilet, ended up being the things I most appreciated. I faced my fears in a gentle and supported way, which has enabled me to see myself in a different, more capable way. So grateful to The Visionaries team for allowing me to be a part of this life-changing experience.” – Nadege Rene, past participant with The Visionaries*

➤ We recognise that camping and the countryside can feel less familiar and sometimes daunting for many. AND all of our ancestors, no matter who we are, lived closely to the land. This is an opportunity to reconnect with that lineage.
➤ We know it can be challenging. As an organisation, The Visionaries have been successfuly leading diverse groups on positive trips into the wild for 4+ years. As a course Faculty, we have 80+ years joint experience. We’ve got your back 🙂

Partially! Not every audience that this course is designed for is represented within our small team. We actively work to ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, feels a sense of belonging within this community. Throughout the course, we create space to explicitly explore identity, positionality, power and privilege, inquiring into how these show up in our work and how we can collectively create a more equitable society. We acknowledge that our team is mostly White British and we hope that by offering programmes like the Visionary Guide Training will support increased diversity and equity in our field.

➤ No. Cultural appropriation is the inappropriate or unacknowledged adoption of something that doesn’t belong to you or your culture. We will address the risk of cultural appropriation by honouring the lineages from which we draw and treating practices respectfully.

➤ We do all have our blind spots and will be inviting participants to co-create a culture of openness, dialogue and mutual learning. This will be enshrined in our course covenant.

➤ Everyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors, no matter what their experience or ability. If you have limited mobility, or are a wheelchair user, you will know that outdoor access can present challenges. We are committed to partnering with anyone in this position to try to maximise inclusion, and we will make necessary adjustments and do whatever we can to help you to participate.
➤ Wherever possible, the course takes places in fully acccessible venues with disabled toilets – please see the course dates section for details. Please feel free to contact us to discuss specific details of the sites we will be using: hello@thevisionaries.org.uk
➤ If you are a wheelchair user who has never previously camped we would advise you against applying to this course this year. But please do feel free to contact us to discuss – and to come on one of our public camps to start your journey.

Absolutely! This is a practice we are deeply passionate about. You can read what it’s all about here. There are different ways of holding it, but at it’s core it’s a three phase process – preparation, threshold, return. The intention is to provide a ceremonial container within which all kinds of magic can stir up within and around you. It creates space to tune into questions such as ‘What are my gifts? What is the world asking of me? Who am I?’

We prepare you, physically, practically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually to spend 24-hours alone in a spot of your choice in a wild place. The invitation (and we do mean *invitation*) is to fast, to be with stillness and to go with as little distractions as possible – no phones, no notepad, no music, no food. Simply taking what you need to stay physically safe (e.g. a tarp, sleeping bag, some water and warm clothes). Tuning out of all of these things allows you to tune in to the wisdom in nature, something we rarely do.

Where it’s offered, the wilderness solo often reported as the most powerful part of the experience!

➤ Thanks to generous support from Social Innovation Circle, this is currently a fully-funded course.
➤ Please remember that those who start and fail to complete the course will be taking up a place that others could have benefited from.
➤ If you decide we didn’t deliver on our promise for any reason, please do let us know so that we can learn together and seek to improve the experience for future cohorts.

➤ This is a carefully sequenced course and attendance at all elements is strongly encouraged.
➤ Any expenses will be reimbursed within 2 weeks.
➤ We will deal with any unforseen emergencies that might prevent you from attending on a case-by-case basis – please contact us as soon as possible in such cases.
➤ Please note that we are unlikely to be able to offer further employment to anyone who has not successfully completed the training.
➤ Please remember that those who start and fail to complete the course will be taking up a place that others could have benefited from.

➤ We will invite those who successfully complete this training to apply to future paid opportunities within The Visionaries’ programmes and/or with our partners as we share related opportunities. We have supported past participants into work within our organisation and with our partners. This has included freelance and seasonal guiding, youth and schools work, coordination roles, and project management.
➤ We will also offer a written reference to all graduating trainees and proactively help you to find further employment with our partners and across the sector.
➤ There are a number of potential next steps and clear pathways you may wish to follow after this course. We will help you to identify those options, make introductions to helpful allies and partners, and support to get you well established in the sector.

➤ Not at the moment. This course is designed to help people begin or develop early-stage careers in the environmental education and outdoors sectors. Whilst not currently accredited, the course will give you vital practical experience and put you in a strong position to be able to set up and run your own initiatives or apply for related roles in future.
➤ Between us, the course faculty have 80+ years experience in the education and outdoors sectors. We have designed the training with that experience in mind, aiming to equip you to run effective, engaging and safe nature-connection experiences for children and young people in a wide variety of settings.
➤ We will aim to help you, during the course, to gain recognised Safeguarding and Mental Health First Aid qualifications.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch: hello@thevisionaries.org.uk