‘The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only with the sky’ is a famous quote. Risk and challenge are the best catalyst for learning and the introduction of orienteering and outdoor education at Huili School Hangzhou has offered so much to help in this area. Immersing pupils in such environments allows powerful development intellectually, physically, spiritually, socially and morally. The very nature of such activities will prepare our pupils for possible future challenge and adversity and make them better leaders and collaborators of tomorrow.
We aspire to develop well-rounded individuals with strong values and the skills and identity to thrive within an ever-changing world. I have had many parents ask me what outdoor education is and what orienteering is, so I would like to use this time to explore the powerful benefits of this and also highlight exciting moments from our hiking and caving trip on May 15th.
What is outdoor education?
What is orienteering?
Orienteering is a team or individual activity that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain whilst moving at speed. This year we have seen the introduction of map reading, orienteering and team-building challenges into the PE curriculum for Grades 6-7. Pupils have explored a range of concepts such as; grid references, map orientation, direction, bearing, pacing, route planning and other navigational skills.
Perhaps the highlight of the year was bringing these skills together in a new, challenging and changing environment. On a wet May 15th a group of 14 pupils from Wellington College Hangzhou travelled to the West Lake area of Hangzhou with myself and Mr. Billows. The total hike was a massive 8.2km with an overall elevation of 257m when we reached the top of Nangaofeng Peak. Pupils led the navigation using a map and compass. We also explored a cave with head lamps and learnt about the topography of the cave structure and got very close to 4 sleeping and 2 flying bats!
The day was jam packed with activities including; tent building, camp cooking and other team challenges. For me as a teacher the best part was seeing pupils’ faces when they overcame a challenge or a fear or when they showed courage to try something outside of their comfort zone. Sometimes as humans we prefer to stay within what we know, but if we never try new things and challenge ourselves we don’t know what we can achieve! The rain was heavy at times, but I think it allowed pupils to demonstrate their resilience and perseverance as well as show responsibility for keeping warm and dry, finding shelter and changing clothes.
Here is what the pupils / instructors had to say about the day: