During October, our grade went on a 5-day hiking trip to Niigata, which is the longest I have ever been away from my home and parents on a school trip. Through Tuesday to Thursday, we had a 3 day overnight hike up in the mountains. During the trip, I learned how to set up tents for the first time. As there were a limited amount of teachers, my group and I had to understand the structure of how tents are built and while we did struggle, we were able to do it by deciding on everyone’s role. I also learned how tiring hiking for hours is. Although I have hiked before, I think everyone can agree when I say that the hike itself was very challenging. We carried heavy bags, hiked through steep hills with limited breaks in an unfamiliar environment. Although it was challenging, I was able to experience the satisfaction of having your hard work paid off as we took our last step to the top of the mountain.
From this trip, we learned about these basic camping skill, however, most importantly we learned about ourselves. Through this experience, I learned and developed self-reliance as we decided our own route in the mountains and made our own decisions, we looked after ourselves and our bodies, we carried our own food, clothes and equipment which would usually be provided for us. During the trip, we had to be responsible and make our own decisions, and while I do have those opportunities at home, we were exposed to situations that I have not experienced before, for example setting up the tents or the extremely cold weather. I learned how to be dependent during these moments.
This experience changed me because I learned about what it means to rely on yourself and to be in control. As I just moved into high school, and soon, college, self-reliance is an important skill that we must develop as we become more independent. The skills that I have learned from this experience will help me in the future, as we have to take responsibility. In addition, I was able to build relationships with my peers as we helped each other out through the steep hills.
I also learned the benefits of being exposed to nature, as we were away from civilization and our smartphones which really helped clear my mind and focus on myself. It felt satisfying to not have my next assignment on my mind or my plan for tomorrow. While we were hiking, my legs were just moving while my mind had wandered, which is not an experience that I can get often at home. While I knew nature is a really good stress reliever tool, I never really had the chance to experience wilderness in this way and the benefits it has on your mental health. While the cold and bugs did not really excite me, I learned that sometimes I should maybe take a walk or go to the park and acknowledge nature more.
Through wilderness engagement, I was able to develop skills that would be useful in the future, whilst also building relationships with my peers and learned to appreciate nature more. Although I gained a lot out of the trip, I probably would not go through the same plan that we went through, and instead maybe decide on my own route and plan instead, as I felt rushed and could not fully take in the environment around me. Overall, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go on the trip to have the time to reflect on this topic and also all the relationships I was able to build.