elba logo


The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach is the national youth centres’ shared perspective of what good youth work is in the centres’ own operating environment. The youth centres’ operations are guided primarily by the Youth Act (Nuorisolaki 1285/2016), which largely outlines objectives for the operations, such as the promotion of children’s and young people’s participation and influencing opportunities, support for growth and achieving independence, and learning skills to promote a sense of community. One special task of the youth centres is to promote internationalisation and sustainable development. The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach created together by the youth centres is an operating method which helps to achieve the goals set by the Youth Act.


Youth centres organize guided adventure, nature, environmental, cultural and camp activities in a high-quality, natural setting in accordance with the Youth Act. Organizations, municipalities and other actors can also make use of the centres’ group activity skills, facilities and services. The most common forms of activities are school camps to support well-being at school, other camps, and Nuotta coaching to strengthen social and life management skills. In addition, the centres also offer training services and develop youth work in Finland and abroad. The national youth centres form a nationwide network. The centres’ social work is subsidized by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
This document outlines the pedagogical youth work that takes place in youth centres based on common values and knowledge, and which is implemented in all of the youth centres’ operations. The point of departure for the creation of the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach was putting the youth centre’s shared activities into writing. The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach is a guide for youth centre employees for common professional youth work. By using the same terms and striving towards the same goals, we can ensure the conformity and quality of youth work carried out at youth centres.

The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach places emphasis on the description and specification of youth work typically carried out in professional youth work, based on pedagogical theory. The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach was developed in youth centres in cooperation with staff, and it also forms a common basis for the future development of youth centre operations.


The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach’s pedagogical ideology is based on a humanistic view of man and on experiential learning in the youth centre environment. Operating environment refers not only to the physical environment, but also to the values which form the basis of operations.
A humanistic view of man is the foundation of the pedagogical and guidance relationship in the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach. The humanistic view of man highlights an individual’s uniqueness and creativity. At youth centres, we believe in an individual’s own abilities and the will to grow and develop, and this can be seen in all of our operations. At youth centres, every person is of equal value. Every person’s goal is to develop into their individual selves and to respect others’ beliefs and goals.
Experiential learning theory is based on the humanistic theory of learning. Experiential learning is active and stimulates the learner diversely, placing emphasis on experiences and their significance in the learning situation. Reflection is a fundamental part of experiential learning. Reflection means reflecting on an experience either during or after it. In youth centres’ wide range of activities, participants are able to experience new things and thereby learn new skills.

Nuoret juoksevat nurmikentällä

The operating environment has influenced the creation of the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach. Youth centres are located close to nature. Nature is a part of the learning material and learning environment in programmes and at camps. Youth centres promote healthy ways of living and strengthen the relationship that children and young people have with nature. The operating environment at every youth centre is experiential, safe, and conducive to development.

Youth centre values:

  • By respect for life and the environment, we mean improving life management, healthy lifestyles, sustainable development, and strengthening our relationship with nature.
  • By sense of community and individuality, we mean respect for both a sense of community and individuality. Spending time together, caring, and safety while respecting the individual and his or her needs are important things in a community.
  • By equality, we mean genuine and respectful encounters with others regardless of an individual’s background and characteristics.
  • By participation, we mean the opportunity for all to be heard and to have an influence. We believe that children and young people have the abilities and resources to solve their own issues, if they are given the necessary support.


The defining characteristics of the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach can be drawn from the knowledge on which it is based and from the operating environment. The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach is outlined in the diagram below.
Youth-oriented operations are based on the belief in an individual’s abilities in accordance with the humanist view of man. The Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach’s primary point of departure is the young person and his or her personal needs and goals.
Parallelism between activity and dialogue is based on the concept of experiential learning. In the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach, activity is seen as a tool for understanding and guiding young people. Dialogue and reflection on experiences are significant to a successful learning process.
A safe, diverse and skilled learning environment supports learning. Skilled staff who consciously implement the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach in a goal-oriented way are an essential part of the operating environment.

Characteristics of guidance in the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach

The primary goal of youth centre operations is to strength children’s and young people’s social skills, which we support through appreciative and respectful encounters. In youth centres, all employees educate in accordance with common values and the characteristics of the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach.

Guidance in youth centres is an activity that is carried out in a goal-oriented way and methodically while taking groups’ special needs into account. The guidance relationship can be approached from a dialogue perspective in which the instructor gives the young person the opportunity to express themselves and simultaneously experiences shared situations from the young person’s perspective.
At youth centres, it is important to find and highlight children’s and young people’s new and existing resources via positive feedback. A warm and attentive atmosphere is passed on to participants. This takes place through small day-to-day matters, such as welcoming a new group as soon as the participants step off the bus.

Youth-oriented operations support youth participation
At youth centres, children and young people participate actively, which supports children’s and young people’s participation. Participation is seen as the opportunity to be heard and to have an influence. Young people’s opinions are important at youth centres. We believe that children and young people are able to solve challenges they face in life on their own, as long as they receive the necessary encouragement and support.
Guidance at youth centres is professional. Instructors identify situations in which young people can be given decision-making authority and responsibility, and those in which the instructor should take the lead. The style of guidance is a conscious decision made by the instructor, and a tool that is always chosen in accordance with the situation and from a safety perspective. Guidance utilizes group processes and the group acts as a resource. Through professional guidance, the group benefits from different people’s strengths, and notices how each individual within a group is important. The group can grow during a camp to identify their own strengths as a group and the individual members within it.

Parallelism between activity and dialogue supports the development of interaction skills

In the Youth Centres’ Pedagogical Approach, activity is a tool for interpreting and guiding young people in accordance with the theory of experiential learning. Dialogue is a significant part of a successful learning process. A successful learning process that combines activity and dialogue involves choosing the right kind of learning environment and support for reflecting on an experience.
Reflecting on things you have observed or experienced is an important part of the programme at youth centres. Experiences are reflected on during the activity as well as during separately allocated time. The instructor’s role in reflection is to lead the participants in considering what they have experienced. At youth centres, the instructor creates and gives space to the participants, and helps them to find the examining side of themselves as well as the experiencing side. Reflection with the instructor and group and feedback discussions help for example to review things that have been learnt, identify and express emotions, and to set and examine goals. At youth centres, the instructor
organizes reflection at a suitable time for the group and using suitable methods for the situation and group.

Professional instructors support reflection through different methods. The aim of examining events is to observe things about individual or group activities which are worth remembering in various situations in the future, and also to identify things and methods which hinder the development of oneself or the group. We support the development of interaction skills through parallelism between activity and dialogue.

A safe, diverse and skilled operating environment strengthens young people’s self-esteem 

Youth centres offer customers different activities from which a professional instructor builds an entity in cooperation with the customer to support the group’s needs and goals and in which experience and participation are safe and in line with objectives.
Activities at the youth centre provide the participant with the opportunity to learn in new kinds of situations and a new operating environment.

Read about the Principles of safer premises