Team-building and outdoor adventures at Lake Sai

Each year, eighth graders face both individual and team challenges during their Outward Bound experience at the Kangakuen Camp at Lake Sai at the base of Mt. Fuji. Challenges include: cooking their own meals over campfires, rock climbing, orienteering, raft building and manoeuvring their team over a 15 foot wall. This year, students were also challenged by the weather. Rain, rain and more cold rain. But, their positive energy and enthusiastic attitudes made all the difference. Here are some of their reflections about the trip:

There were numerous activities that provided a fun, yet challenging tasks. One of my group’s biggest achievements was getting over the wall in 13 minutes. When we first looked at the wall, it was dauntingly tall. 15 feet? We thought it wouldn’t be possible to complete. So, we decided to do the spider first. By doing the spider first, it helped build teamwork, and we really got to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.

When we got back to the wall, we designated two people to help lift, and we put one strong and tall person up first, who helped pull people over. We talked everything out and nothing went unsaid. It was a high point for us when we finally pulled the last person over.

A lower point for us was during rock climbing. Since it was more of an individual task, it made me feel isolated. I went first, and I couldn’t get the hang of it. So, I decided to let other people go and try it, while I watched how they tackled the surface. Then, I gave it another try, and I was able to make it to the top. The last part of the climb was frustrating because the thing we had to touch was just out of reach. When I did manage to grab it, I felt like I was on top of the world.

When I was faced with challenges like the rock wall, I tended to take a step back and try to reevaluate the task. I looked for other ways to maneuver around any obstacles. I think that this can reflect on my everyday life. When I’m frustrated or something isn’t going my way, I need to take a step back and be able to collect myself and possibly change tactics as to how I want to solve the problem. – Yuki Adams

I had a lot of fun at Lake Sai participating in challenges with my team. The best parts were definitely the wall, the spider, and cooking meals with everyone. Throughout this trip I learned how important, but difficult, teamwork can be and how influential a positive attitude is. – Pria Gohkale

I really enjoyed Lake Sai, as it was an interesting experience. Though it was tiring and at times challenging, I really did enjoy it. I also was proud of the way our team worked together and how our trust grew throughout the whole trip. Especially on the wall. Even though we did not complete the challenge, we held our group member’s harness, which required a lot of trust from the person who was going over the wall. I am proud of our team and I think this was a good experience.

I also think that I will take home with me the things I learned on this trip. I learned that even if you don’t know the person well, you can learn to trust them. I also will take with me the many skills I learned. – Jonathan Anderson

Rock Climbing was most challenging for me at Lake Sai. I wasn’t that afraid of heights, but it was hard finding the right places for my feel and legs and my hands to hold on to. Also the way to the rock wall was tiring. We only hiked for about 40 minutes, but the road was steep.

I learned not to give up. When I was climbing the most difficult part, I thought, “I can’t reach the top,” but I was able to climb when I tried hard. From this, I learned that when I try my best, I will be able to do things I want, and I will apply this to my life. – Yoonjin Son