Jumping for Joy at KEEP

Transitioning from elementary school to middle school is a significant time in a child’s life. It can be filled with many different demanding emotions, challenges and significant events in their development. But for the sixth-grade students at ASIJ, an important (and fun!) educational and social step in their journey is a three-day trip to the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) center in the mountains of Kiyosato, east of Tokyo. KEEP is a recreational complex set in dairy farming land among the Japanese Alps, with sweeping views of Mt Fuji on cloudless days.

Our mission at ASIJ is to foster a community of inquisitive learners and independent thinkers, inspired to be their best selves and empowered to make a difference. Through KEEP’s activities, including hiking, nightly explorations, and engaging in forest challenges, our students learn to embody our mission and vision for learning. Throughout this three-day learning adventure, each student finds deeper bonds with their peers in their advisory and their teachers.

Eighth-grader Rintaro Mori went along with the sixth grade to cover the experience and share some fond memories of KEEP.

Everyone loves to go on school trips.

On Wednesday we arrived at school like always. We left school and headed to KEEP in Yamanashi prefecture after we had met with our advisory. When we arrived, we munched on the lunches we had brought with us from home. Soon after, we changed into clothes appropriate for the outdoors and started our first activity, which was to hike. The days at KEEP passed by like the wind for us, since the activities we did were so much fun.

We stayed at Seisenryo, which has a few cabins and the main lodge. For those of us who were staying at the cabin, we were sorted into random gender-specific groups of 8-10 and accompanied by two teachers. Since the cabins were limited, the rest of us who couldn’t stay in the cabins stayed in the main lodge in rooms. There, we were grouped with 3-7 other students of the same gender. The teachers stayed at the main lodge in rooms adjacent to the rooms we stayed in, where they could keep a close eye on us. The students had bedding in both the main lodge and the cabins. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at the Seisenryo main dining hall where students had a choice between both Western and Japanese food.

After we had our fun at KEEP, we came back to school on Friday. On the way back, the buses stopped so that we could purchase some lunch to fill our big youthful stomachs. In the week that followed our return, we were back to our usual schedule and classes. Although we just can’t wait for the next trip we will be having this school year. After we experienced the KEEP trip, all we talked about was our individual experiences and met with classmates we don’t often talk to. Based on the following quotes from sixth-grade students, you can imagine just how much fun we had at KEEP!

Colette Schmidt
“The hike was a little difficult, but very beautiful and interesting and definitely a great experience.”

James Hathaway
“I think that the best part of KEEP was walking in nature and having the really good ice cream.”

Riho Sakai
“I learned that all animals are unique and different in many different ways.”

Erin Etheridge
“It was really fun to work together and make new friends.”

Want to know more about KEEP? Check out the middle school trips site.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.