17 May, 2014

I survived the 5th grade camp!

I survived 5th grade camp, as a parent! I wasn't worried about the students, but I was worried a bit by the assurance that we'd be doing a lot of mountain hiking. Turns out it wasn't too hard . . . except the the bit at the end of the first day, and the end of the second morning.

We spent Thursday morning travelling by bus and van to the west of Tokyo and the mountains. We then caught a "cable car" up to what some of us thought was the top of Mt Mitake

We had lunch at this beautiful spot. It was misty, rainy enough for everyone to put on their rain gear, but that cleared as the afternoon went on. Leaving cloud to shield us from the heat.

Love the wisteria where we ate lunch.

Then we hiked. But not really on mountain trails. To our surprise there is a community up there. A bunch of houses, even a school. And several shrines. We walked about a kilometre, almost all uphill, to the summit.
This was the top of Mt Mitake. A mountain of about 900m high. A shrine is at
the summit. We stopped periodically on our journey for the students to write in
their journals.
The view to the left of the one above. Another
part of the shrine.
An impressive statue at the shrine.
Another another view from the same spot.
The trees are gorgeous at this time of
year, the greens are vibrant, almost
My little phone camera didn't cope too well with the gloomy
conditions, but this was one of the views we enjoyed.
Then we headed down the mountain. No cable car! This was the most painful of the journey. Down hill for a long way!

We stopped once for the kids to journal (and, presumably, to rest).

This was the angle of the cable car. We didn't walk
down at that angle, but did walk to the bottom,
where we'd parked the vehicles.
It was lovely to enjoy a hot meal that someone else had cooked when we got back to camp. Though I would have enjoyed a hot bath at that point, the program continued onwards. The students gave presentations about what they'd learned about ecology and then we enjoyed a campfire.
We introduced many of the students to
s'mores for the first time. Many of these
students had never had them before.
The class has very few blond heads in it.
Most of the children have at least one Asian parent.
After campfire was the drama of baths. Japanese-style baths. Meaning: no privacy (girls and boys were separated, of course). This turned out to be a drama for the girls. These are 11 and 12 year olds and some of the girls are more physically mature than others. But I believe that most people got washed. I know not everyone did, because my son dodged the bullet, but not because he's bashful. He's just the most reluctant to look after himself in any way. I doubt that he cleaned his teeth while we were away either.

I got to sleep sometime between 10.30 and 11 and had a good night's sleep. The classroom teacher didn't sleep so well because some kids woke up at 4 when it began to get light.

The next day we went down to the river and explored. By down, I mean down. From the campsite, it is down quite a long way! Especially for legs that descended a mountain the previous day.

It was a beautiful, sparkly day. Such a contrast to the day before, but perfect.
Certain members of my group weren't so perfect, but I think we can leave that out of this post.

After lunch we headed home again in the bus and vans. There were many nodding heads, but just as many crazy loud energiser-bunny kids in the bus. I'm grateful I could stand in the gap and prevent some tempers overflowing!

I'm glad I got to join the 5th graders on this trip. It wasn't terribly relaxing, but it was another opportunity to enjoy some more of Japan's beautiful nature. Can you believe that all of the above is within Tokyo's prefectural limits? When people refer to Tokyo as a city, they really don't get it right!

The question remains: will I do it again in two years time when our youngest is in 5th grade?

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