Back to Nature

2023 September Back to Nature: RAFTING Report

Date: September 3, 4, 9, 10
Location: Mitake, Tokyo
Participants: (4 days in total) 49 campers, 16 care workers, 8 LITs, 13 Mirai no Mori staff, 16 sponsors 
Sponsors: Knights in White Lycra, KEEN
Program Partner: Mitake Race Rafting

This summer, we were able to offer a total of 4 rafting programs down the Tama River, which is very popular among campers.

Since rafting is not about strength but all about teamwork, we had plenty of team-building time in the morning for campers, LITs and volunteers to get to know each other.

After the announcement of the teams, campers became leaders and started on by choosing team names, and then played rhythm and gesture games to build teamwork. With the help of LITs, who have been working together since April, all the teams completed the games with outstanding teamwork.

For lunch, we enjoyed a handmade curry prepared by cafe monaca, which also supports us through charity coffee, to recharge our power needed for rafting. After finishing lunch early, many of the campers became so energetic and excited that they had a dance party!

Then, in preparation for rafting, we welcomed a wide variety of rafting guides, who gave us a fun self-introduction and shared the safety talk for rafting. After sharing the 5 values we wanted to work with the guides who would be in the same boat with us, it was finally time to go rafting.

Life jackets and helmets were put on, and finally the great adventure down the 5km Tama River was about to begin! Each team paddles forward and backward down the river with shouting 1,2 or their team names. Some campers struggled with the slightly difficult way of holding the paddles, but they took on all the challenges with big smiles on their faces. Some campers fell off the boat at some parts of the river where the current was strong, but as they were taught in advance, they caught the rope firmly and got back to the boat with nice teamwork. On the way down the river, we were able to enjoy many challenges, such as water splash fights, tug-of-war contests on the boat, jumping from high rocks, swimming, and so on. Finally, teams raced against each other, ending with an energetic paddle-up (paddle high-five) for each team!

“It was a lot of fun, with lots of firsts, like rafting for the first time and taking on team challenges on the river for the first time!” by camper

“I was glad that when I fell out of the boat, I was able to calmly grab the rope and climb back up! Also, this was my third time rafting with Mirai no Mori, so I was able to relax and have Kindness for the little ones!” by camper

”I didn’t have the courage to sign up for the leader at summer camp, but I was able to this time, and show my leadership to my teammates!” by camper

“I was happy to see that the children I treat as ‘little kids’ in the early elementary grades at the care home being confident and strong and how actively they participate in everything at Mirai no Mori. I realized once again that Mirai no Mori is a very important environment for them. Also, I was moved by the kindness of the campers who swam to the rescue of the big campers and super staff, who are bigger than they are! by care worker

“I was really nervous because it was the first time in my life to go rafting, but I was very impressed by the campers who cheered loudly, gave advice to each other, and rescued me when I fell from the boat. Also, since the rafting was a day where we spent a lot of time on the boat and the main focus was on spending time as a team, it was wonderful to see how even first-time campers were able to show teamwork, with kind words of encouragement within the team!” by camp staff

“I wasn’t planning on jumping at first and wasn’t sure if I could do it, but seeing how brave the campers were gave me the courage to do it!” by volunteer

“There were some tough spots, such as the strong currents and large rocks, but we were energetic the whole time, and it was a great team effort. The energy of the campers always inspires me!” by rafting guide

Thank you everyone for a great rafting experience!