Certified IA Leader, Adam Peacock of the Visiting Schools Program (VSP), leads the thirty-eight students through this exciting self-development program with the assistance of Prem and VSP staff.
Grade 9s practice Adventurous Journey
As the first term came to a close in October nearly all Grade 9 students had completed their practice Adventurous Journey. Pre-trip preparations were made in homeroom sessions to decide what food they would bring, who would carry what and the all important question of what to wear.
The first trip was completed by class 9E along with Ajarn Emma and Ajarn Steve, who met the VSP team at the school entrance on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. After redistributing the first aid kits and maps, all working on the skills learnt in the preparation days, the group set off to the start of the two day trek from Mae Taeng to Chiang Dao just north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Some VSP staff went on ahead to be posted at checkpoints over the first day’s trek. Each group set off at 15 minutes intervals, following their maps and written instructions to move through seven checkpoints.
The first part of the trek wound around a stream and ended at the first checkpoint at the bottom of a stunning waterfall for a quick stop and a swim for those who wanted it. The straightforward instructions included a simple phrase to “keep going up until you reach the next checkpoint” - and it went up, and up, and up! After many stops and much huffing and puffing all groups made it to checkpoint two only to realize the uphill wasn’t over.
Throughout the day the group weaved up and down through the forest, hill tribe villages, and farmland with a continuous panoramic view of the mountains of the north. All groups arrived at camp before dark and began to set up mosquito nets and mats for sleep in a village hut; followed then by the serious business of cooking made much more the challenge by a sudden change of weather - a rainy season rain storm.
All “Mama” cups consumed, dishes washed and tummies full everyone began to settle down. IA leader Adam got a fire going and everyone indulged themselves with toasted marshmallows and chocolate dip brought by A. Emma and Kelvin (9E). Although the master marshmallow maker turned out to be Ajarn Steve, who spent most of the evening toasting perfect marshmallows for everyone.
After a good sleep, breakfast and a cleanup they once again set off together for the second and final day of the hike. Due to the rain the night before but everyone worked together to help one another slipping and sliding through the muddy bits. Lunchtime was spent around a stream relaxing and making observations of the natural environment around them, including the discovery of an amazingly beautiful wandering spider which crossed their path. After a short rest they set off with the promise of an end in sight. Many uphill challenges later, the exhausted party arrived at the end of the trek. Tired, hungry but rightfully very proud of their accomplishment more than a few fell asleep on the way back to school.
The final adventurous journey will take place later in the school year implementing lessons learned from the practice run and developing new skills such as compass reading, setting up a campsite and sleeping in tents.
PTIS feels the rewards of the International Award Program to their Grade 9 students lead to amazing opportunities to discover what they are made of, put in to practice their growing skills base and encourage closer bonds with their fellow classmates all in harmony with their student vision of inquiring, caring, knowledgeable and confident learners.
Back at school, reflections took place in homeroom based on what would they change, what did they do well and what they need to do for the next trip.
So, next term all grade 9 students will continue the International Award training and complete the Adventurous journey element with a two day canoe trip. In addition, to this element students are selecting Exploria activities to cover the service, skill and physical recreation elements of the award.
This is a valuable opportunity for students to gain recognition for all the extra-curricular activities they take part in as well as learning new skills. It is already clear within the two groups that a great deal of bonding took place during this first trip and many showed great leadership and determination that will help them in their future.