Sense of Community

Empowerment and Communality 

Studies show that natural environments have attributes that get people to feel better, even socially. Being close to nature as well as spending time and being active in nature are shown to get people to have a more positive attitude towards others – and ourselves! 

Hikers walking on duckboards. Photo: Petri Jauhiainen

Marginalisation and loneliness are challenges people face in both population centres and more remote areas. Indeed, being alone in nature is proven to feel more pleasant in nature than in an urban environment. Feeling like you belong to a group, place or larger whole can be even further emphasised in nature.

The unwritten ”sitting 'round the campfire rule” is that it is OK to sit quietly. This makes it possible for even the quietest person to find their place in a group. On the other hand, it is also nice to share your experiences with others. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a lean-to, gazing at a crackling fire and chatting.

Nature is used, for example, in youth work with adventure education programmes: youths are encouraged to be active in nature in an effort to find and build their own strengths. The feeling of empowerment enhances their self-esteem and self-confidence. Stepping out of our everyday roles in the middle of nature facilitates a feeling of community. 

Youths taking selfies in a beautiful natural setting. Photo: Vastavalo/ Jari Hindström

Join in

  • National parks and other outdoor destinations offer outstanding volunteer opportunities all over Finland.

  • Metsähallitus partner services offer, for example, guided activities. You can find the contact details for partner services under each destination on the nationalparks.fi website.

  • Could you be a 'nature buddy'? Someone who might offer a lift or get new people interested in nature? Could you organise a day outing for kids? Or would you rather just go berry or mushroom picking with friends?  Even if you come home with an empty bucket, you will still have had some unforgettable experiences.   

  • Do you enjoy peace and solitude? Many people want to go out in nature to be alone.  

  • Are you the hiking leader for your own group? Read more on how to plan hikes 

  • If you are organising an event, you must contact Metsähallitus first (www.metsa.fi). Advance notification helps to avoid any overlaps and congestion at the sites. 

Hiker relaxing with a dog. Photo: Petri Jauhiainen

Nature Affects Human Interaction in the Following Ways

  • We have a more positive attitude towards other people.
  • Interaction between different age groups becomes easier.
  • Empowerment and a stronger belief in one's abilities.
  • A stronger feeling of belonging to a group or a community.