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Pitching a tent to build a house

07 Nov 2020

“We developed our teamwork spirit as we worked together in groups during the activities. Additionally, we were able to learn a little bit more about our housemates. It was fantastic to create some lovely memories of the camp and I am looking forward to the next trip together.”

—— Candice, Grade 6 of Hui House

Over the past few weeks, Junior High pupils have participated in two different camping activities.

Daniel Wright Hui Housemaster Grade 7 and 8 pupils spent two nights at Sun Island from Monday 28th to Wednesday 30th September. Grade 6 pupils then camped at school on Friday 16th October. This year has seen most similar trips and activities cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19, but, because we adhered to such robust precautionary measures, these trips were able to proceed safely and successfully.

The grade 7 and 8 camp pupils spent one night in a tent that they pitched themselves followed by another night in a cosy dormitory. Camp Greenwoods, the company responsible for organising the trip, arranged a series of exciting and challenging activities that provided a truly unique experience for the pupils. Participants had the opportunity to try outdoor activities like ziplining, climbing and kayaking. There were also team-building activities, such as frisbee, capture the flag and archery tag. Of course, there were also traditional camping activities, like campfire songs, roasting marshmallows and daily flag ceremonies. Grade 6 pupils also enjoyed an authentic camping experience, pitching their tents on the sports field and taking part in what was for many of them, their first time sleeping outdoors.

Like their grade 7 and 8 counterparts, they also engaged in activities such as archery tag, but the school-based setting allowed for some truly unique activities as well. For instance, they explored the campus in a frantic scavenger hunt and competed in raft races in the school swimming pool. More than simply having fun, however, pupils had the opportunity to foster stronger relationships with their housemates, develop essential life skills, such as teamwork, and put Huili values into action outside the classroom.   Strengthening house bonds The first Huili Junior High campouts were held in autumn last year, and, due to their overwhelming success, we were determined to repeat them this year. One of the most important aspects of the campouts is the opportunities they provide for cultivating house spirit among pupils. Whether in classes, CCAs or scheduled house activities, pupils are regularly with their housemates during the school day, of course. But these trip campouts allow pupils to spend even more time with their housemates, so they can learn exactly what it means to be a member of the Hui, Xian, Li or De House.

As our pupils concluded these campouts dressed in their house colours and overcome with a sense of exhausted fulfilment, we had no doubt that this had been achieved. These campouts also allowed pupils from different grades to spend more time together. During the grade 7 and 8 campout, for instance, pupils were put into groups with a balance of members from each grade. It was fantastic to see house members developing house spirit across age groups. “This camping trip helped me to develop my leadership skills because I had to face a group of people that I was very unfamiliar with. It was sometimes challenging because of the age gap, but I love challenges!”

——Nate, Grade 8 of Xian House

The grade 6 pupils also benefitted from input and guidance from their older housemates as the house captain and deputy captains from each house were invited to participate in the grade 6 camp. Additionally, this provided valuable opportunities for the house captains and deputies to develop their leadership skills. The house camping trips let the leadership team in grade 8 and grade 7 get to know the grade 6 students. For example, the House Captain's Award that the leadership team gave out made me think about the demonstration of Huili values by grade 6 students. I started to remember their names, strengths, and even personalities.

——Maggie, Grade 8 of De House

We were able to bond together as a team and really get a sense of our house identities. It created a higher sense of "house" as we were doing all of the activities together. Almost all were related to working as a team, so the camping trip was highly successful in helping us develop house spirit.

——Clark, Grade 6 of De House

This year, however, the house camps took on even greater significance. The second semester of the 2019-20 school year was greatly disrupted due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which unfortunately meant a large number of planned school trips and activities were cancelled.

he fact that the house camps went ahead successfully showed that, with sufficient planning and precautions, we are capable of overcoming adversity.   Putting Huili values into practice At Huili, our five values are at the centre of everything that we do, whether that is studying in a classroom or kayaking across a lake. However, because the pupils spend most of their time at Huili in classrooms or on the sports field, opportunities to explore what our values look like in other settings are highly valuable. These camping trips were therefore an excellent chance to do just that.

We saw pupils showing kindness to their peers, offering to help them set up tents or carry heavy items. We saw pupils taking responsibility for their environment, cleaning up the campsite or dormitory without being prompted. We saw pupils listening respectfully to the Camp Greenwoods staff and following their instructions carefully. Pupils showed great integrity by honestly telling the referee they were 'out' during a game of dodgeball or capture the flag when they could have just as easily gotten away with continuing to play. Pupils also demonstrated amazing courage in tackling challenges that seemed beyond them at first. One of the reasons we chose Camp Greenwoods for the grade 7 and 8 campout was that their core values are similar to our own: friendship, respect, perseverance, service and patience.

At the daily flag ceremony, pupils were able to nominate peers they felt had demonstrated these values.Nominees were awarded with a value-specific wrist band and given the honour of participating in the flagpole ceremony. After each activity, the Camp Greenwoods staff led a short reflection session during which pupils were encouraged to look back at the activity they had just completed and consider what they had learned, what values had been important, and how this experience could be applied to their life away from camp.

Shirley Yuan, De Housemaster, sums the entire experience up best “The Junior High house camp was a fantastic journey for students and an opportunity to show all the Huili values. The memories made during camping are exceptional and will stay with pupils and teachers for life. Moreover, all four Houses developed a stronger house spirit during the camping trips, which has a huge positive impact on daily school life.”