GOW2: our training course on wellness strikes back

After a period of extended laziness and unemployment in which I was mostly writing about other topics, here I am back with the story of a training course. More precisely, the second edition of “Game of Wellness”.

The first edition was very successful, a great experience for all of us involved (here you can find that story). It was a training course (co-funded by the Erasmus+ program) focused on the many dimensions of “Wellness” – and how to bring them closer to youth work and education.

How to make a good sequel? There is some very good advice around on the internet – for example, some very good tips for storytellers are here – but there is only so much one can learn from tips. Experience is something else.

So, for quite some time we were wondering how to do it. How did it go?

Here is what happened.

Similar location, but different time. 

The first course was in December, where winter feelings dominated the program: it was a lot about darkness, recovering energies, cold vs warm, and a very pleasant day at the spa.

Sun was always a central element in our days together. Even if most of the time it stayed behind the clouds.

This time we had full summer. A very rainy week, true, but nevertheless the weather was much warmer and the days were long. Sun, not darkness, was the protagonist. And the course was hosted in the Slunakov educational center:

A fantastic place, with lots of opportunities for outdoors

and inspiring locations for learning

which we try to use every summer. We hosted some memorable training courses there, such as Share the Right Story and Nature of EVS.

Well. The time and place were set, so we were ready – or not, really – for our Game of Wellness vol. 2 – Wellness strikes back.

And we tried to follow some of the golden rules on how to realize a successful sequel. Let’s see them. 


Setting the scene with a strong initial challenge. 

Some people knew what to expect from us, so we decided to change everything at the beginning. Instead of a lot of cuddling, a warm welcome and wellness of the ultra-spiritual type, we went for a challenge on the first day.

A classic from team building, sure. But it worked out really well for us.

Especially because the elements helped us: a terrible and unexpected storm hit the group when we were on the water, and changed the experience from a pleasant cruise down the river, to a real challenge against nature. It was really cold, heavy rain and wind in our face. After a short discussion, the group decided to stop (for some people it was too much). Challenge failed? Maybe, maybe not.

In any event it was a key moment in the group development. 

Same protagonists, with signs of character development. 

First rule: don’t change a team that works well. Jana, Bara and yours truly make a tested and tried team by now.

We work well together and our styles combine well, with interesting contrasts and synergies. Or this is what people say, anyway (or at least, this is what I hear).

This time though, each of us decided to raise the bar of our inputs a little bit. The experience from the first edition was precious, and so was the feedback we received. For example, I decided to cut short my sessions on game theory, and focus more on experience and fun.

Antonin having a lot of fun with Pac Man.
And Dixit, a great example of a game that doesn’t need a lot of words but is completely centred on communication.

Still, there is space for improvement (some were missing the theory, some wanted more action… you can never make everybody happy, anyway), but I feel it was a step in the right direction.

Bring a new character to the team. 

We did it!

We invited Honza, our old good friend, to give a challenging input on spirituality. It was not an easy subject, very hard to combine with the standards of non formal education – sometimes in order to be politically correct and not to offend any sensibility, we prefer to avoid the subject altogether – and made even harder because it’s a very personal topic.

Honza included some traditional elements of spirituality, such as faith and religion,

There is a VERY curious “kids corner” in the local church.

combining them with aspects from nature, discussions,

and the hardest question of all, “what will come after us?“. Explored at the local graveyard, nonetheless.

At the same time, people had the time to experience their own personal process and no conclusion or opinion was pushed. The session turned out to be controversial, which was inevitable given the topic and the approach.

We believe it was important anyway, to shed some light on an area of “wellness” that is not often taken in consideration. And, gave the rest of the team a free afternoon the opportunity to benefit from a different training style. Which is always a plus.

Practicing Italian pizza making. Riiight.

Remember to include the classic familiar elements of the franchise. 

Yes, thanks. We did it. On our side, we brought in some of the most memorable elements from the first course, such as the Wellness Inventory, Burn Out prevention, or Gamification.

But more than that. A central element of the first GoW was to leave a lot of space to participants to propose and try out their own workshops and approaches to “Wellness”.

Aga sharing some yoga exercises. Even I did it!

This time we included in the program four full sessions run by participants, and we couldn’t be more satisfied. The quality and diversity of the workshops was surprising!

Except, we were not surprised at all. Because we knew that we had a fantastic group of participants, with lots of experience in many different field, and also because we asked for a written summary of the workshops in advance.

But “surprising” is a nice word to use.

Mircea on spoon carving from wood.

Next time, I would say that we will share the draft with all the workshop descriptions before the course, so people will be able to better choose which workshops to attend. Thanks to feedback!

Mindful eating. Mariann looks really mindful here. Or maybe she is just getting very hungry.

Those shown here are only some examples, maybe among the most “spectacular” (in the sense that I have a lot of pictures to share).

We had topics ranging from mindful breathing to Acro-Yoga,

Woah! No way that is not dangerous. And yet, it’s not. They say.

from personal goal setting to an introduction to kickboxing (yes!),

Eleni was really kicking some ass there.

And look at Vas! To see him fighting reminded me of something.
And now I know what.

and more: eating mindfully, spoon carving, love, therapy, dance, sharing dreams, and… apologies if the list is not complete!

Leave space for a trilogy ending. 

Again, check.

Our second episode was a bit tougher, with more mature topics and characters (we missed the “I am your father” moment, though), but we sure know that good things always come in three.

We worked with real focus on how to transfer the learning and the experience home, back to “the real world” – which is actually as real as the one we experienced together with the group, and that’s important – and we explored aspects such as balance between work and life

networking for developing future ideas

and drawing our conclusions on what is wellness, really, and how can we bring it a bit more into our lives.

In the end we closed with a powerful ceremony (because what is not to love about a good ceremony to make feelings fly high) to set the intentions for going back home (the third one will probably be The Return of the Wellness, after all, so better be ready for it)

and sharing the most memorable moments in Council, because it’s always good to end with Council.

The result was a very intense week, probably more balanced and a little sharper than the first one. Ask Brian (twitter @fitzwhy) who was in both, he can tell.

Yes, we were tired

because in a week so full, who has time for sleeping?

But everybody learned something. Even Freddy! Who can now climb trees.

And we were happy, full, and ready to go home.

In case you are wondering, we are already working on the possible 3rd episode (the title is not decided yet, I was only joking, although I would love to include Ewoks somehow) – but nothing is decided yet.

And you? Maybe after reading this, you feel inspired and want to have a part in the follow up. Or even, host a training on this subject. With us (because if it’s not with us, why should I care?).

Feel free to contact us and we will give you a lot of support on where to find funding, how to apply, and all that. If you already have the funding, happy days! It will be even easier to develop a cooperation. And we can spread wellness even further, together!

Random picture of Olomouc by night, but I needed an intermission here.

Bam! And it’s over!

Were you there? Were you in the first edition, and feel a little jealous now because this one was undoubtedly cooler?

Did you want to be there, but we unfairly didn’t select your application? (shame on us, shame! try again, and let us know).

In any case, let me know how it was for you. Feel free to comment and engage in the comments section, and if you liked this post, remember the mantra: like it, comment, and share it!

You can also explore the other sections of the blog and don’t forget to follow us on facebook!

Ciao :)



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