60 Years of the Youth Commission of the Alpine Association of Slovenia

The Alpine Association of Slovenia (PZS) was working with young people already in the first half of the 20th century, and in April 1956 they established the Youth Commission (YC), which became involved in the education and training of young mountaineers. Together with youth sections which operate within alpine clubs, the commission has been for already six decades implementing various campaigns to popularize mountain hiking and ensure its quality, encouraging youth organisation and youth activities, as well as training professionals to work with young people. 105 (out of 287) Slovenian alpine clubs have a youth section, and in 2015, there were more than 17 000 young mountaineers enrolled as members of the mountaineering organisation, from preschool children up to age 26. The PZS Youth Commission celebrated its 60th anniversary on 9 April 2016 in the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana.
Immediately after its establishment, the PZS Youth Commission began to educate youth guides to work with young people in alpine clubs, and already in 1963, the youth sections of alpine clubs began to organise first mountaineering schools, safer mountain hiking courses for youth, which have continued until today. In order to encourage young mountaineers to lead a healthy lifestyle in nature, teach them about the basics of mountaineering activity and safety in the mountains, while also developing qualities such as camaraderie, perseverance and curiosity, in 1969 and 1975 two campaigns were launched: Mladi planinec (for young mountaineers older than 9 years) and Ciciban planinec (for young mountaineers up to 9 years of age). Since 2010, when their mountaineering diaries were re-designed, both programmes have encouraged an organised form of mountaineering, and equipped the young mountain visitors with skills for a safer and more independent movement in the mountains.
As early as in the late 1960s, the YC founded the Committee for Education and Training, and between the years 1971 and 1973 they introduced a seminar for young mountaineer group leaders, who today play a key role in teaching mountaineering content, and provide assistance to the guides on mountaineering trips and camps. In the 1980, an education and training centre was established in Bavšica, and in 1999 the Mountaineering Training Centre Bavšica was built, which has remained the hub of youth activities as well as other mountaineering training. In addition to the increasingly established training course for youth leaders, who represent a bridge between children and the PZS mountain guides, other informal trainings by the PZS Youth Commission are worth mentioning: the winter mountaineering school, the hiking course covering demanding and very demanding trails, the orienteering course, and the sociability seminar.

The former and 17 ex-presidents of the PZS Youth Commission at the celebration in the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana (credit Manca Čujež)
Since 1993, the YC has been awarding the highest recognition for a quality work with young mountaineers – Youth and Mountains. It represents its highest award for achievements in the field of education and training of young mountaineers, and some attention is devoted to it also in the YC publishing activities. The competition Youth and Mountains, the most well-established contest for testing the knowledge, skills and experience in mountaineer activities for primary school students, (and this year, for the first time for high school students as well), has existed since 1989. On the other hand, the mountain orienteering competitions, which represent a fun way of learning to autonomously and independently control one’s movement on the mountainous terrain, celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2015. The mountaineering camps, which have been offering the youth a multi-day adventure in the mountains and sharpening their mountaineering skills since 1925, are also very popular among young mountaineers.
Under the auspices of the PZS, young people have been attending youth mountaineering camps, seminars and foreign exchanges for already half a century, and on many occasions the Youth Commission activity has served as an example for foreign organisations on how to work with young people. The PZS Youth Commission has obtained the status of a national youth organisation and a youth organisation in the public interest in the youth sector. Its has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with the Slovenian youth and volunteer organizations, as well as with the UIAA Youth Commission.

Planinska zveza Slovenije je delo z mladimi izvajala že v prvi polovici 20. stoletja, aprila 1956 pa je ustanovila Mladinsko komisijo (MK) in jo vpregla v skrb za vzgojo in izobraževanje mladih v planinstvu. Skupaj z mladinskimi odseki, ki delujejo v okviru planinskih društev, že šest desetletij z različnimi akcijami skrbi za popularizacijo in kakovost planinstva, spodbuja mladinsko organiziranost in mladinsko delo ter usposablja strokovne kadre, ki delajo z mladimi. Mladinski odsek ima 105 (od skupno 287) slovenskih planinskih društev in leta 2015 je bilo v planinsko organizacijo včlanjenih več kot 17 tisoč mladih planincev, od predšolskih otrok do 26. leta starosti. Mladinska komisija PZS je 60. obletnico praznovala 9. aprila 2016 v Slovenskem planinskem muzeju v Mojstrani.

Author: Manca Čujež

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