Back to Nature
2023 January Back to Nature: Snow Program Report
Date: January 21-22 & 28-29
Location: Tsunan, Niigata
Participants: 30 campers, 7 care workers, 5 LITs, 11 Mirai no Mori staff, 4 Wild Tame members, 10 KEEN staff (2 programs in total)
Sponsor: KEEN, CBGM Kodomo Zaidan, Morgan Stanley, Mazars Japan
Snow season has come, and we were able to hold two snow programs. As in the previous years, we limited the participants from one home at a time and chartered a bus to get from the care home to the program site directly to avoid public transportation. We also assigned children’s rooms based on the groups at their own care homes to reduce the risk as much as possible.
In residential programs, campers work as a team. Once again, the repeaters took the lead, coming up with various ideas for team names, head counts, etc., and sometimes negotiating with one another, demonstrating their teamwork without the help of the camp staff or care workers.
On the 28th, we were joined by longtime partner, KEEN, for a snow-surfing activity. The KEEN staff kindly taught the campers how to surf, and they were amazed at how quickly they improved. This was all thanks to everyone who supported KEEN’s Giving Month campaign in December 2022.
Snow play, where each camper could freely choose how to play and who to play with, was a time for their individuality to shine through. Whether it was a snowball fight, a snowman building, or sledding, campers enjoyed themselves until they were exhausted. Some spent two days building a snowman and others sipped hot chocolate inside the igloo they had worked so hard to build. The night activity, a night hike, took campers out into the woods without lights, and they had a great adventure while cooperating with each other.
Also at the residential programs, campers learn to “take responsibility for themselves” by sharing their living space with other people in a different way than usual and by managing their own equipment and tools to enjoy activities in the outdoors. This time, too, there were many things for each camper to manage, such as gloves, goggles, and boots, and there were meeting times and rules to follow. With the support of LITs, we were able to see them challenge themselves to do a few things that they would normally ask an adult to do, in various situations.
At the final reflection, all participants were able to share their comments about the program, and it was a wonderful finish where everyone was able to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of one another.
“I had a lot of fun playing in the snow for the first time in my life! The fluffy snow made it hard to make snowballs for the snowball fight, but I was happy that we all got to roll around and wrestle.” by camper
“I hadn’t snow-surfed in five years and was really looking forward to it. At first I fell right off, but by the end I was happy to be able to make turns.” by LIT
“I was actually a little scared of sledding, but many campers were not afraid and asked me to go sledding with them, and we had a great time together. I was very impressed by the courage of the campers.” by LIT
“It was the first time in my life to go night hiking and I was so nervous to go out at night in the snowy mountains, but it was so much fun! Lying on the snow, listening to the sound in nature in silence, and climbing up the fluffy snow walls were all new experiences not only for the campers but also for us.” by care worker
“I felt that there were many great interactions between the LITs and campers. Campers were looking up to LITs, and I was also impressed by the way LIT taught the campers sledding tricks and provided support.” by camp staff
We would like to thank everyone who sponsored and supported this program.