Grade 10 Niigata Snow Expedition

From March 12th to 16th, we went to Niigata for a snow expedition. Even before going to the expedition, I was excited to gain new experience to widen my comfort zones. Also, I wanted to get away from the constant Internet-based, noisy, life that I have right now for a short amount of time.

 

Hiking With Snowshoes

Building the Quinzee

On the first day that we arrived, we did an exercise to appreciate silence by just sitting in the snow for 20 minutes by ourselves. For me, that experience felt very short and I was able to realize how noisy my everyday life is and how I usually don’t take time to sit back and think because my ears rang with silence. On the second day, we made a snow cave that we would be sleeping in on the next day. This was a new experience for me as and I learned how tiring it is because we were all in our T-shirts when shoveling snow. The next day, we packed our bags for camping and went hiking with snowshoes. During the hike, we collaborated together as a group by caring for each other and matching the walking pace so that everyone feels comfortable walking. That night, we came back to our snow caves and cooked dinner for ourselves. After dinner, I slept inside the snow cave for the first time in my life in an extreme heat-insulated sleeping bag.  On the fourth day, we came back to the lodge that we were staying and skied for the rest of the day. It had been about 3 years since the last time I skied, so I was surprised to see how much I remembered how to ski.

 

Inside the Quinzee

Through this experience, I learned the importance of shared leadership and silence. Firstly, I learned how leadership does not need to be just one person leading the whole group. During the hike, we all cared for each other and looked out for each other to collaborate effectively. For example, when a person tripped the person behind them would call out to all the group members to stop and wait for a second until he/she stood up again. It was because of this shared leadership that we managed to complete the hike safely on that day. Secondly, I realized through this expedition how important silence is. Silence gives us time to think, relax and reflect on anything or nothing. In our current everyday lifestyles where there is constant noise – whether it be the cars, the construction sites, the phones, and the people – we usually do not take to just sit back and do nothing and our bodies and minds are restless most of the time. Therefore, from now on, I would like to take some time once in a while to just sit back and relax. Overall, I really enjoyed this meaningful experience because I was able to gain a new perspective on the world and the lifestyle I go through every day.

 

Grade 9 Niigata Expedition Reflection

From October 17th to October 22nd, I went to Niigata as Grade 9 school expedition. I did a lot of new things that were beyond my comfort zone. Before we went, we had a meeting with all the people going to Niigata and we talked about what we wanted to get out of it. Some keywords were self-reliance, responsibility, leadership, and resilience. I decided then, to make my goal for the expedition to become self-reliant, responsibility and leadership. However, I have never hiked for three days or hiked for that long of a distance or stayed in a tent for two days. These things scared me a little bit. Also, when the teacher told us that we would have to navigate by ourselves and that we would have to carry everything on our own, I was very worried. I was also excited, though. The thing that I was most excited for was to spend the whole week with my friends and to expand my comfort zone. I hoped that by going to the expedition, I would be able to feel big accomplishment.

Me Holding the Map and Navigating

Me Holding the Map and Navigating

On the day before the first day of hiking, we decided on our role in the group. I chose to become the navigator of the group, who will use the map to get us to campsites. On the first day of the hike, I was a little bit nervous because I was not so sure of my navigating skills, but my group members assured me that they wouldn’t care if they get lost. That lifted my worry. As we started hiking, I started to get really tired because there were many steep hills and the trails were very hard to walk on with branches and muddy ground. On the way, we ate lunch and we hiked for about 6 hours. Finally, we made it to the campsite and I set up the tent for the first time in my life. It was very hard.

Setting Up the Tents

Setting Up the Tents

From this experience, I learned many things. For example, I think that I was able to become more self-reliant and have more leadership than before. By navigating by ourselves and getting to the campsite without getting lost, I was able to become self-reliant and by leading people the right way, I was able to learn more about leadership and how leaders should interact with others. I also learned how to build tents as well as other survival techniques like how to pack my bag correctly. All these things will stay with me because things like leadership and self-reliance are things that I can use in other places in my life. I also took risks on the first day. An example was when I was not really sure which way to go, I took some risk and half-guessed by the shape of the trail on the map. These risking skills might be important in my life too.

Washing Dishes

Washing Dishes

On the second day of the hike, we got lost. We took two different turns and had to go back the way we came. However, after 5 hours or so we finally managed to get to the campsite. At the campsite, we cooked by ourselves. We cut vegetables, washed dishes, started the fire and cooked stew. When washing the dishes we made sure that we used environmentally friendly dish soaps and use as little amount of soap and water as possible. When cooking, we also made sure to not drop any garbage and if we do, pick it up and take it with us, not leave it on the ground.

Cooking Stew

Cooking Stew

From the experiences on the second day, I learned to be more responsible for my actions. I learned these through getting lost and when cooking. Using the smallest amount of soap and water as well as using environmentally friendly soap helped me become more responsible. By dishwashing, I was able to find out what effect we have on nature even without us noticing. I learned that bad kind of dish soap can damage the rivers and by damaging the river, the fishes will be damages and that will lead to the whole food chain. Therefore I learned how each small actions can affect a bigger thing. This will help me in the future too because then I would be able to think before doing anything reckless and that might help me make lesser mistakes.

Overall, this expedition taught me a lot of things. I learned about responsibility, self-reliance, and leadership and all these things made me a better person. This made me feel very accomplished and proud of myself. All these things that I learned could be used in many places in my life, both now and future. An example for that will be when I am trying something new, I might need to be responsible for myself and be self-reliant. I really enjoyed the expedition and I feel like I want to do it again. This is because I feel like I could do better now that I went to Niigata. Maybe next time, I might be able to stay on the mountain longer or try harder trails. Lastly, if this expedition was a metaphor for something in my life, it would be my school life. Like when I was hiking, there would always be ups and downs, both literally and not, and this can be said for my school life too because sometimes I would do well at something but sometimes, there might be things that I find very hard to do and struggle. Also in the expedition, I learned new things about myself and about my friends and classmates. This was very fun and I enjoyed it very much. Therefore, this year’s expedition was really helpful for me and I thought it was full of excitement and interests.

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