Back to Nature

2024 January Back to Nature: Snow Report

Date: January 20~21 & 27,~28, 2024
Place: Tsunan, Niigata
Participants: (4-day total) 45 campers, 12 big campers, 8 LITs, 10 Mirai no Mori staff

It’s that time of year again for our popular overnight Snow Program in the winter wonderland of Niigata. This year, we had energetic campers and big campers,8 LITs which was the largest number of LITs in the history of the Snow Program, camp staff, and one graduate as a kitchen volunteer.

Last year, the program was held one care home at a time and we had a chartered bus from each care home, but this time we had a large gathering from several care homes after a long journey by bullet train and bus. Some were meeting for the first time, others for the first time in a long time, and while some looked a little nervous, the eyes of the campers sparkled as they reached the silvery white world with snow.

There were many campers who showed great leadership in this program, in which most of the campers were repeaters. There were campers who had leadership when deciding on team leaders and head counts, or kindness when they needed to manage their own rental items.

The snow play was a time for each camper to freely choose how to play and who to play with, and it was a time for each camper’s individuality to shine through. Some campers were quietly building snowmen and igloo, while others were sledding and having snowball fights until they were drenched in sweat. During the two days, campers tried various ways of sliding, completed cool works of snow art, and enjoyed the accomplishment and smiles on their faces. And the hot chocolate which has become a staple of the snow program, was also very popular.

After everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner, we went for a night hike, which we took on without lights. In the pitch dark, enjoying the sound of snow, we felt the special moment when everyone’s hearts become one.

During the reflection, the campers, who had overcome many challenges in the residential program, thought about the values they would like to present to themselves. It was very impressive to see them seriously thinking about their new experiences, what went well, and what they would like to do better next time, as they reflected on the events of the past two days. The program ended with a slideshow full of memories!

“I thought sledding was scary at first, but when I got my courage out and started sledding, it was so much fun and I sledded so many times and it was so much fun and 2 days went by so fast!” by camper

“I had a great time jumping in the deep snow in the dark on the night hike, it was a special experience that I will remember the most.” by camper

“Last year there were campers only from my care home, but this year there were people from different care homes, which made me a little nervous, but in the end I was happy to make friends with so many different people.” by camper

“I did my best in leadership in the snow program by eating all the food I served myself and being a leader and keeping everyone together!” by camper

“I want to give myself ‘Kindness’ by supporting the leader in my team and talking to my team members without giving up.” by camper

“As a leader of LIT for the first time, I realized that it is important not only to get the job done, but also to have a good time with everyone, so I learned to use nicer words and to control my emotions.” by LIT

“I joined the Snow Program last year as a graduate kitchen volunteer as well, and I was impressed by the teamwork among the LITs, whose roles and responsibilities were even greater than last year. I joined the program because I wanted to have an opportunity to use English in preparation for my dream of studying abroad in Australia. I’m happy I was able to speak English with the staff and the chef.” by Graduate

“I was a little concerned about the campers who were joining for the first time this time, and I could see that each of them were overcoming things that didn’t go well and having some frustrations. However it was heartening to see how they never gave up until the end, no matter how hard it was.” by Big Camper

“This was my first overnight program at Mirai no Mori, and I was very impressed with how encouraging LITs were! I enjoyed it as much as the campers did. Thank you!” by Big Camper

“I was able to see campers I hadn’t seen in a long time and could see their growth and how they challenged themselves through the program. I was able to experience firsthand the benefits of the ongoing activities that we value in the Mirai no Mori program!” by Camp Staff

We would like to thank everyone who sponsored and supported this program.