Juho Vaarala is a local youngster who loves the great outdoors. He knows the local cross-country ski tracks and nature trails like the back of his hand. “At school my class specialised in nature and wilderness studies, and we learned things like lighting a campfire and ice fishing.”

For Juho, nature is part of his everyday life. An outdoor adventure is always within easy reach when you live in Iisalmi! Juho lives in a part of Iisalmi named after an owl. Pöllösenlahti – the Owl Cove – is located just a mile from Iisalmi city centre, yet close to nature. In fact, this description fits all residential areas in Iisalmi: you are never far from the woods and waterways.

Just beyond Pöllösenlahti is the Paloisvuori outdoor recreational area with excellent ski tracks and other leisure activities. “There are plenty of woods in every neighbourhood in Iisalmi, I’d say. Certainly more than there are in Helsinki or Tampere,” Juho estimates.

Nature is always close by in this town. “When you walk in the nearby woods, you can spot animals and observe the changes and transformation in nature,” Juho says.

For a youngster like Juho, climbing trees is most likely a skill he picked up during his outdoor excursions. Bitten by the nature bug, Juho chose hiking and camping as elective subjects at school.

“I believe I will learn many skills that will be useful later in life,” he reckons.

And he has a point – camping and wilderness skills will always be useful. Living in Iisalmi comes with a luxury not available to everyone: the nearest nature trail starts at your doorstep.