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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Camp Verbier

One of the most obvious difference between schools in the States and schools here in Switzerland is the legal culture regarding school outings and trips. Going to camp and on over-night field trips is part of the culture and is valued as an essential part of the curriculum.

My class got the chance to go on Camp for the first time as it is only for grade 3 and up. The excitement was palpable and the kids were so eager and excited.
We went to a camp in Verbier, Switzerland. Verbier is in the French speaking part of Switzerland and nestled in the Alps. The views are incredible as is the hospitality of the locals. The camp we attended is called Les Elves and the staff was brilliant with the children and the staff. In fact, they provided a couple bottles of Wine every night after lights out for the teachers to enjoy. Of course the culture with regards to Alcohol is much more relaxed in Switzerland. It is not uncommon to have alcohol at staff events after school.
We were at Camp for 5 days. We met at the train station Monday morning and said goodbye to parents and proceeded to take four trains and one bus to make it to our destination. The trip was great but very hectic as we left during rush hour. It was difficult getting 56 children and 8 adults with all the luggage onto the train in the few minutes it stops at the station.
Our week was filled with lots of fun. We went hiking and had bbq's. We visited a local Zoo and saw wildlife from the area (including a Lynx which connected wonderfully to our endangered species unit). We had fun game nights with staff, rock climbing and ropes course outings. The entire week was a total smash!!
One of the PYP learner profiles is to be a Risk-Taker. It was fabulous to see my kids really getting a chance to be risk-takers in new situations. Some had never been away from their parents over-night, or been in a situation that was so new and foreign. But they all did brilliantly.
As part of the curriculum we try to make reflection on learning a daily habit. Camp was no different and kids took time to write in their camp journals and reflect while the events were still fresh in their memories. Here are some of what they said:

Today I rock climbed for the first time ever! I got to try the easy, middle and challenging way up. The man was very nice and helped me a great deal. I can't wait to come here next year."

"The ropes course is my favorite thing I ever have done. I was so scared at first but after I tried it then it was so much fun. The zip line was sooooo scarry. I was thinking that I would fall but I was a risktaker and did it and it was good."

"Camp is the funnest camp I have been going to. I hope I get to be going again next year."

"Miss Pam helped us in the music game last night. She knew most of the songs and we almost won. Then we played musical chairs and I got out right away. It was so much fun but the food is not so good."

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