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Project's topics: Cultural heritage, Physical And Mental Health, Well-Being, New Learning And Teaching Methods And Approaches

"Camino Estonia"

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About the project:

  • The aim of our project is to inform young people aged 18-30 about their own hiking capabilities, Camino de Santiago and Camino Estonia hiking trail, all while using non-formal methods to teach about maintaining mental health, problems and solutions. 

  • The project aims to create a safe space where the difficulties (and successes!) of the participants can be discussed. The workshops look at negative thought patterns, core beliefs and behaviors that interfere with daily life and provide tools to change them or alleviate symptoms.

Chapter 1: Projects in Spain and Italy. The Birth of an Idea.

Even before the idea of the "Camino Estonia" project came to be, two girls, Sasha and Dasha, who were previously strangers to each other, were going about their own separate lives, completely unrelated to the project. By pure chance, Dasha and Sasha met in Italy in the autumn of 2022, during a youth exchange, "La Via Degli Dei," and together they walked 130 kilometers from Bologna to Florence 🫣 The Italian project was sometimes difficult and challenging, but the idea of outdoor activities and hiking was undeniably inspiring. The memories of this trip stayed with the girls for a very long time, both the good and the not-so-good ones, and they returned to Estonia with fresh impressions 🙌🏼🇮🇹

Important to mention that in the summer of 2021, the "Winter Way - Camino de Santiago" project took place in Spain, in collaboration with the Spanish partner, Valdeorras Vive, covering 110 km in El Bierzo and Valdeorras regions 🎒

Let's shift back a little to the summer of 2022. One day, while strolling through the summer capital of Estonia, Pärnu, Sasha and Lucas stumbled upon a shell on the asphalt, which caught their attention as it resembled the historic symbol of the Camino de Santiago 🐚😳 A debate ensued: "Why is there a symbol here? Nah, it can't be related to Camino; it's just a representation of the sea in the summer capital." Curiosity piqued, they decided to look up the question and, by complete chance, stumbled upon the website "Wow!" they thought, "How unexpected!" and just continued with their walk.


Fast forward to the autumn, where after completing the project in Italy, Dasha turned to the Estonian team from Italian project, almost reaching the project application deadline, and said, "Why don't we write our own project?"

Without hesitation, the team agreed (of course)! 💃🏽🕺🏽

What followed was the hard work on the project, Google shared documents, face-to-face meetings, sleepless nights, and the hope that our project would be approved. (Obvious spoiler: it was approved, yay! 🥳😅)

It's so easy to believe in an idea, isn't it?

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Chapter 2: The Beginning of the Journey 

So, preparations for the project began, creating an infopack, searching for tents, recruiting participants, numerous trips to the project stages, and here it is - the day of arrival! 27 participants from Estonia, Spain, Georgia, Bosnia and Italy, not a single suitcase (thanks for that!) met in Tallinn, where we spent the first 2 days of the project.

During these days, we got to know each other and started building a team, created supporting families for the hike, received pilgrim passports, once again discussed the entire plan of our trip and the topic of the project, and managed to get wet at the Laulupidu 😅

Our activities, by the way, took place right in the old town, thanks to our local partner Draper Startup House Estonia, cooperating with them is just so smooth and we will 100% use the space for events in the future!

So, our journey has begun, with the most complex logistics and many pleasant and not so pleasant surprises along the way, but the main thing is that the team was wonderful and ready for hiking! 🥾💪🏻

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Chapter 3: Let's go! 

A couple of days before the project, we were enjoying the hot weather and sun, and suddenly, along with the project, the rains began. We had to adapt and look for quick solutions in the moment ☔

As a result, as part of the project, we decided to start our hike in Märjamaa and end in Pärnu = 83 km

We already mentioned the rain, right? 😅 Just imagine, we are going to Märjamaa, with tents and sleeping bags, to spend the night and start hiking in the morning, but the weather decides to change our plans..

We must say that without expecting it, in Märjamaa we came across such good people who just inspired us and gave us motivation for the rest of the project! Thank you Märjamaa Rahvamaja for the support and hospitality! And thank you Märjamaa Valla Spordikeskus for the interest in our project and willingness to help!

We arrived in Märjamaa, held our activities and talked about the tree of life , then pitched tents in the courtyard of a local school and mentally prepared for the first day of hiking!

Chapter 4: Day 1 of hiking

On the first day of hiking, our participants walked 29 km from Märjamaa to Kivi-Vigala. Early in the morning we packed up our tents, made ourselves a packed lunch for the day and hit the road together! 🥾

The road was mostly on a former railway embankment, reaching the historic Konuvere stone bridge, Vigala and Velise Rivers, and small forest and village roads towards Vigala St. Mary's Church.

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Chapter 5: Camino Estonia 

And here is our next day of hiking: Kivi-Vigala - Pärnu-Jaagupi, 22 km!

Pärnu-Jaagupi.. here we first realized that the project really was going to happen! Because it was here that we met Epp Sokk, the founder of the Estonian Society of the Friends of St James Way, who inspires and helps pilgrims in Estonia, and to whom we are so so grateful!

Lovely Epp met and saw us off with the ringing of bells from a local church , arranged a live meeting for us and even allowed us to play the organ! We also registered in the guest book, stamped the pilgrims' passports and set up tents before our cultural evening 💃🏻

Such a warm welcome, thank you! And thank you for your great work!!!

By the way, be sure to check out the website, and who knows, maybe you’ll be the next to go on Camino?

In Pärnu-Jaagupi, we felt especially that our project was not just some kind of youth exchange, but that with our project we really made at least a small (?), but impact at the local level, and this is priceless!