The PYP 2 was buzzing with excitement from before the Winter break. “Ms. Can I choose my roomies?”, “Where are we going?”, “How many days will we stay there?”, “What will we do there?”,” What if I don’t want to do this?”…It was raining questions in PYP 2. The kids’ eyes were big and sparkly with excitement and trepidation. The annual overnight trip was scheduled right after the Christmas break, in fact in the week after coming back to school. The students knew that there were some exciting activities on the cards such as zip lining and rappelling. And they wanted to find out more. But they were not getting many details from us. “You’ll find out once we get there!”
When we got back from the Winter break, the learners started making a packing list. The list had a few interesting items such as iPhone, computer and a scooter. They also had to provide a reason for the item they needed. Thankfully, this helped them streamline their packing list. They were also keen on sharing rooms with their friends. Faced with a deluge of persistent requests, we decided that they could choose whoever they wanted to room with, providing they could convince us about their choice. The learners decided to write a letter to convince us of their choice. Never have we ever had more requests about a writing task! “When can we write a letter?” was a constant refrain on the two days before the trip. There was an air of excitement as they planned the letter and improved it to make sure they convinced us that it would be a good choice for them as well as for us. To make matters more excruciating for them, we reluctantly told them that they would have to wait until we actually got to the camp to be able to make a decision!
The day of the trip dawned with the class full of chattering students, rolling suitcases and nervous parents who had come to wave off their children on their first independent stay away from the comfort of home and family. It was soon evident that the parents were more nervous than the students. At 8:30 am a wave of students, suitcases, jackets, caps, bottles, ID cards, backpacks and a solitary odd face mask swept into the bus and with an almost perfunctory wave to the parents, the PYP 2s were off on their first independent overnight field trip. Barely had we crossed the gates of MBIS, and packets of chips, cupcakes, cookies emerged and the next hour and a half was spent blissfully with an assortment of junk food being passed around. When we reached our eagerly awaited destination, the children waited with bated breath for their room allocations. Only to be told that they had their choice but there were a few choices or possible adjustments that they had to make on their own and ensure that all the PYP 2’s had a friend to room with. The PYP 2’s made quick work of the room selection options and showed that they could be flexible, caring and responsible. After all, the chatter had died down and the rooms explored, the young learners headed off to discover the campsite in groups. With their war cries ringing around the campsite, the Owls, the Howling Wolves, the Flying Eagles, and the Dragon Warriors, explored all the different parts of the area and made a map of the campsite and presented the same to each other.
Fortified with popcorn, potato fritters and juice, they split into two groups to conquer the commando net and rope ladder. It was incredible to see them all persevere and be risk-takers. They were soon off to change and splash in the pool which also had a waterfall. In the evening, the students all assembled to play some energetic team games in the garden.
After a delicious dinner of continental and Indian food which was topped by some yummy butterscotch ice-cream, the nervous learners went in a row down the narrow stairs from the campsite to discover the nightlife in the jungle around the campsite. A slow line of torchlight snaked down the stairs, pausing for a brief focus on trees to discover geckos, favorite bird roosting spots, anthills accompanied by quite a few squeaks, screams and gasps, and some whimpers! The learners were nervous but very brave as they stuck together and clutched at the adults’ hands with their own rather clammy hands. As we reached the rocky dry river bed and found some rocks and boulders, narrowly missing some cacti, the dark night revealed its starry, sparkly treasure. Viraj, one of the Adventure Mantra crew showed us the constellations- Orion and why it was named after the famed hunter, the Sirius star and the Pole star! The night trek was truly the stuff that makes for great stories. It had thrills, scares, screams, and some great discoveries in the end. The journey back, up to the campsite was short and the students were soon ensconced in comfy chairs around a blazing campfire eating toasted marshmallows! They were then allowed to choose to have a party in their rooms with their friends with a given time limit. The two bungalows were soon the scene of some lively revelry- which involved pillow fights, excited conversations, song and dance, lots of giggly storytelling, heaps of junk food and drinks. But all too soon it was time to go to bed! Within 5 minutes of tucking them in the exhausted students were all sleeping soundly. Mr. Pawar, the security personnel from MBIS, was up all night to ensure the safety of all the learners.
The next day the children were out at the break of dawn in the camp clearing, getting warmed up with some morning exercise and gearing up for the exciting adventure that lay ahead. Monish, Viraj, and Arya the Adventure Mantra crew led us through an innovative way to greet each other with a good morning move and a fun song and dance routine about penguins! After a hearty breakfast, the PYP 2’s clambered up a hill through the forest to gear up for the Flying Fox. Needless to say, after watching their classmates zip down the mountain in excitement, the few reluctant students were tempted to take a leap of faith and zip down the mountainside in pairs. They all loved it and wanted to have another go! The kids who were waiting in the clearing were engaged in an energetic session of stone breaking, rock castle making, and root bashing!
Trudging through the jungle, the learners picked up rocks, stones, leaves, and bark for their memory boxes. They discovered many types of spider webs- tunnel spider’s webs, many-layered sky-scraper webs, normal circular spider webs, and a HUGE spider hanging down, right in their path! The next adventure needed the learners to gear up, climb up the rocky mountain to the clearing of a dry waterfall, get clipped into the safety harness to get ready to rappel down the huge rock! The learners leaned back so that they were perpendicular to the rock, and let their own body weight ease them down, enabling them to slowly walk backward down the rock. The Adventure Mantra crew were amazingly supportive and took care that the learners safely and successfully rappelled down the mountain rock!
This annual overnight trip was a fitting culmination to a unit, encompassing a real, meaningful, experiential experience that led the learners to explore the unit on journeys. They lived the unit for a week and we do believe they had a wonderful experiential learning experience to explore the central idea- Journeys help people discover the world around them and live the different lines of inquiry:
- Types of journeys people make
- Choices and decisions involved in making a journey
- Changes experienced because of a journey.
The learners lived and experienced the learner profiles with ease and so completely! It was truly a joy to see them be open-minded, flexible, caring, responsible, respectful, communicate and appreciate the beauty of the world around them. As an answer to every teacher’s prayer and hope, we saw some student-initiated and planned action as a response to the beauty and the wonder of nature.
As the children were waiting for their turn to gear up for the rappelling, they noticed plastic bottles and trash on the river bed. With a brief pause for permission, the young learners were working like eager beavers, scurrying up and down the rocks picking up trash and piling it up in a spot. Soon someone spotted an empty carton that could be used to transport all the trash they found back to the campsite. One of the students had an interesting idea- “We should have field trips to clear and clean our beautiful forests! That is so much better than just a field trip for fun!” That was an inspirational reflection to think about- The purpose of our journey!