From March 12 to 16 in grade 10, I went on a snow expedition in Tsunan, Niigata. I participated in a large number of activities, including: building a snow shelter, skiing, learning how to read maps and use a compass, hiking, building a quinzee (a snow hut), doing yoga and sitting in the snow silently in order to appreciate the silence. The two activities that impressed me the most were building the quinzee and the activity where we had to sit in the snow silently for around 25 minutes.

Building the quinzee required quite a lot of physical effort. But the good thing was that we did not have to build the quinzee all by ourselves; we were divided into groups of at least four. Therefore, in order to build the quinzee, we had to cooperate. If we did not cooperated, we would not have had a warm place to sleep that night. This taught me that if you want to stay comfortable out in the wilderness, you will have to cooperate, because there are many things that you simply cannot do by yourself. This means that you need to trust your group partners and accept that maybe not everything might go exactly the way you wanted.

The other activity that was the most significant aspect of learning for me was simply sitting in the snow silently. We went to a forest nearby the lodge where we were staying and we were instructed to find a spot by ourselves and sit there in complete silence for around 25 minutes. Due to the cold I expected it to be very hard for me to do. However, it was extremely relaxing and healing, because it helps you to clear your mind and I found myself focusing more on my breathing. So, against my expectations, the 25 minutes actually went by very fast.

The snow expedition in Tsunan, Niigata taught me many different theoretical and practical skills. Though, the things that I found the most useful were that I learned more about cooperation such as trusting my group partners, rather than trying to do everything by myself and accepting that the final result might not exactly be how I had hoped it to be. I also learned that nature and silence can significantly reduce stress and help clear my mind. Because of this, sometimes when I am stressed, I just put on headphones or go to a park in order to de-stress; and it has worked very well so far.

Building the snow shelter.

Building the snow shelter.

Building the quinzee (snow hut).