Last weekend, our Grade 7 and Grade 8 students attended Orientation Camp at Sun Island Resorts, Shanghai, hosted by Camp Greenwoods.
A little rain was not going to dampen the enthusiasm of our students during this Orientation Camp, not especially this cohort. The Grade 7 and Grade 8 students arrived on Sun Island to grey skies, but the cheerful and enthusiastic greetings by the Camp Greenwood counsellors would set a sunny tone for the weekend.
It isn’t just challenges in the Camp that they had to deal with. This is an exciting and maybe bewildering time for Grade 7 and Grade 8 students as it marks an important transition in their adolescent life. The aim of the Orientation Camp was to help them in integrating into Senior School life, build rapport with their teachers and other students, and gain out-of-the-classroom experiences.
“We like to create bookmark experiences that help to bond the campers and staff, something that creates a long-lasting memory that they can share for the rest of the day and through the rest of the year,” says Mike Kristopher LEWIS, Co-founder and General Director of Camp Greenwoods.
Through team-building exercises and fun activities such as archery, rock climbing, ultimate Frisbee, Ga-Ga ball and dodgeball (among many others), our students found many ways to step out of their comfort zones and hone I4C values like collaboration and communication.
In ultimate Frisbee, they learnt and demonstrated the values of fair play and teamwork. In archery, they gave instructions and encouragement to their friends. In rock climbing (a tough and scary activity even for veterans), the students had to overcome a fear of falling even though they were safely harnessed.
Miss Sophie YOON, Senior School ESL English and Korean Teacher took the lead to show her students how it could be done and was present to ensure every student attempted to climb to the top to ring the bell. Though not everyone succeeded, it was heartwarming to witness students encouraging each other to never give up, to reach for another handhold, and to see their friends determined to go beyond their physical capabilities. To have tried is the greatest achievement.
For climbing, I really enjoy the feeling when you’re super tired, and your arms are sore, and you still try to make it. You never know what you’re gonna do unless you try it, and you never know how well you will fare till you push yourself. Climbing provides an excellent experience, and I feel that you can also enjoy it very much—I learnt that I should never give up.
Camp was very positive, it was great, I really enjoyed it. The coaches there were also very good, they helped me with my fears because I had a fear of heights before I went on the climbing wall. After encouragement from my teachers, my friends and the coaches, I became better, and I conquered my fear. Overall, it was fun, I hope I have another chance to do it again.
My favourite activity at camp was the bonfire because we could make s’ mores with our friends. The thing that I’ve never tried before was the inverted slopes of the rock-climbing wall. I learnt to face the challenges I have never tried before; it’s good to be open-minded so you can try new things.
The camp was amazing, I loved it. We had so many activities to do, and I made so many new friends—I wish it had lasted longer. What was really memorable were the activities, especially rock climbing. I was terrified of heights, and then I was encouraged to do it so after I did it, I felt so proud of myself. I got to the top and rang the bell!
My favourite activity was the Gaga ball because it was really exciting. I’ve never tried the Ice cream social before, and I learnt that I am pretty good at convincing people to buy our products! I would tell next year’s Grade 7s that this camp will be memorable and that it’s tiring, but in the end, you will miss being at Sun Island.
“It is heartwarming to see students enjoying their learning away from the confines of classrooms, working together to complete many different team-building activities,” says Luxi XU, Senior School Mathematics Teacher. “There were lots of sweat, laughter and new ideas; it was a very memorable experience for all.”
Senior School Science Teacher
I thought the Orientation camp went well and the activities were fantastic, I had a lot of fun too! It was great to see everyone active, collaborating, making new friends and learning new things! Hats off to everyone! It was truly a fun and genuine learning experience. Our enthusiastic students, camp activity leaders and our supportive teachers did a wonderful job in making it a great success!
Senior School Drama and English Teacher
This year’s camp was especially energised. I was very proud of the students who took risks tackling the climbing wall and dancing at the campfire. Even though some were nervous or shy at first, they challenged themselves and ended up creating memories to be proud of.
Senior School Humanities Teacher
As a new teacher at SSIS, orientation camp was an excellent opportunity to get to know the students and staff. I enjoyed the activities with the students and seeing who they are outside the classroom context.
Overall, this Camp was precisely what the students needed to start the year. The screen-free trip in an unfamiliar site meant they had to get used to being out of their comfort zone. Without phones and homework to occupy them, they embraced the challenges before them, learnt to appreciate nature and the outdoors, and found new ways to learn outside the classrooms.
The new friendships formed will serve them well in school, while the risks taken and fun they had ensured they had lasting memories to treasure. Naina SUWAKUMAR from Grade 7 Amber summed it up best: “Working cooperatively as a team really helped build effective teamwork, as well as creating strong and new friendships with everyone. I am really looking forward to more opportunities like these in the future.”
Camp Greenwoods is an American-style camp first founded in China in 2016. They combine their extensive camping knowledge with a deep understanding of Chinese culture to create unique experiences. They specialise in team-building activities that encourage students to step out of their comfort zones, form new friendships and learn more about themselves as individuals.
At SSIS, we believe learning takes place everywhere. Outside of the classroom, interdisciplinary learning can take place during field trips and excursions. These valuable outdoor opportunities enable our students to make real-world connections, reflect on themselves selves and gain broader perspectives of the world.