02 Nov, 2017
10 : 00
On day one of the Year 8 trip to Dali, Daniel Gao wore a very fitting shirt. On the front, it had the words “find you limits” and on the back, “and cross them”. Unaware of what was in store for him on this trip, I smiled as I took photos of it.
During our Dali and Yangshuo camps, most students find themselves out of their comfort zones, removed from the luxuries of city life, warm showers, clean shoes, soft beds, and Wi-Fi. Both trips are challenging in their own way, and some receive their challenge at different times and in various ways. Where one student finds challenge in the physical requirement, another may find challenge with the bugs and dirt. Another may find challenge with the individual responsibility required throughout the camp, while another may be struggling with the limited use of their technology. No matter what the challenge, the sense of accomplishment felt after completing something many would have thought unmanageable is a feeling our YCIS Y7-9 students will not forget.
The Year 8 Dali hike involved more than 35km of walking on unpaved dirt trails and brought students up to an elevation of 3100m. With long days carrying their own backpacks, many students found their limit on day 1 while completing the 800m ascent. Given a choice on day 2, some of our students chose a more difficult route that included two big ascents and an extra 5km of hiking. Besides the additional challenge, these students were rewarded with fabulous views of the Flower Valley and an up-close experience with grazing sheep and yaks. Regardless of their chosen routes, the trip required focus to put one foot in front of the other, required encouragement to and from fellow classmates, and invited students to an inner conversation with themselves. Our Year 8s can look back and say “yes, I did that”.
The Year 7 and 9 Yangshuo camp paired our youngest secondary students with our most experienced. Passing on their experiences, our Year 9s were able take on a leadership role assisting our Year 7s to learn the routines and expectations of camp. On day 3, our Year 9s stepped out in front, leading activities and watching all their preparations pay off in that moment. With the various activities at camp, the thought “I can do this”, overcame a fear of heights while rock climbing and abseiling, and the thought “I will be ok”, overcame a fear of dark enclosed places while caving. Stepping off a platform to have your feet dangle as you zip 60m across an open space below also tests some nerves. Daily, our Year 7 and 9 students found new strengths within themselves.
As the Dali hike progressed, Mr.Gao along with many of our students, found their limits and crossed them. Our YCIS-CQ camps are designed to develop the whole child in more ways than we will even know. Inner challenges and breakthroughs often will be kept close to our students’ hearts. The cursing of “crazy Brady” will always be a time that they thought they couldn’t take another step, couldn’t climb another centimeter, or sleep another night in tents. Their experience and perseverance during camp will be everlasting.