On Thursday last week, Grade 11 students visited Waischenfeld for their first activity day – a fun and challenging canoeing session, followed by a sunny hike in the heart of Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz).
The purpose of this day was to give students some time to bond, laugh, take a short break from schoolwork and recharge for the last demanding month of school.
“Especially because the students missed so many field trips over the last two years, it was important to do something together outside of school and have that connection,” says Michaela Day, one of the Advisors chaperoning the group of 48 students.
In the process of working the canoe in pairs, the students had to sync their timing and build a rhythm to paddle together.
“It was amazing to see them working together while canoeing. I believe that while trying to figure out the best way to make it work, they got to further develop their communication skills and teamwork,” Grade 11 Advisor Alessia Prest reflects on the day.
At the end of 1.5 hours of paddling, the team had their lunch and set out for a hike. The glorious view of the hills was accompanied by a visit to a cave on the way (pictured above). They all enjoyed a packed day with adventure, thrill, and of course, lots of endorphins.
“These days help the students pause from the stress of their syllabus. Besides, they get a chance to talk to students they usually don’t hang out with, get to know each other better, maybe do something new that they’ve never tried before,” Ms. Prest says, “For me as a teacher, it was a great opportunity to get to know some of my students better. It’s important to me to learn what they like, what they don’t, what worries them and so on, in order to help and support them at school.”
Both advisors agree that a visible benefit of such activities for students is that they are an easy way to introduce sports into their everyday experience at school. Grade 11 is already looking forward to recreating some of the energy and connection in the upcoming activity days later this year.
When asked about the transferable skills the students may have acquired through this bonding exercise, Mrs. Day refers to the ‘Caring’ aspect of the IB Learner Profile. “It was nice to see them looking out for each other, egging each other on to get one foot ahead of the other.”
Mrs. Day also talks about developing their thinking skills. “Despite the safety briefing in the beginning, the students had to do a lot of calibrating – how to maneuver the canoe, slow it down, pick up the pace.” She says that this ability to think on their feet is something they can carry into their lessons in school and outside as well.