At half term I went on the School’s first ski trip.
As a geographer I have run countless trips to some spectacularly beautiful places, trekking up to Machu Picchu, cruising down the River Nile, camping out in the Masai Mara, travelling at dawn to see the wonder of the Taj Mahal. Each trip has brought a unique set of memories that I still reflect upon wistfully. However, it was this latest trip to the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomites where I really appreciated the true value of school trips.
Yes, they provide the girls with lifelong memories and learning opportunities, yes, they offer a week of adventure and fun with their friends and yes, it is often the girls’ first experience of being away from home for longer than a few days. But what struck me most was that a school trip provides the opportunity to live as an extended family where you all have to work together and make compromises and adjustments. You cannot put yourself first, or do just as you please; how you behave and react affects the whole group.
For many girls the week in the Dolomites was the first time they have lived and shared with so many people. This very process required them to adapt, to listen, to work together and move outside of their comfort zones. To me the real success of a school trip is when the group become a community, looking after and caring for each other, putting others first and responding to their needs, not just their own.
Our ski trip brought out the best in each person. Girls looked after each other on the ski slope, at dinner time or in the hotel. Girls made people feel included and celebrated individual successes, and when we returned there were knowing smiles between girls and teachers as they meet in the corridor, reflecting the feeling that new bond had been forged and a special experience had been shared.
I share this feeling and in a world which is increasingly becoming a “me” culture, the value of the school trip becomes even more important, ensuring we embrace the importance of community at it’s very best.