Year 9 camp: a race for the ages

Written by Megan Chan

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The basketball court buzzed with chatter on Monday morning as Year 9 students began to flood in, bulky bags on their shoulders or piled up on the floor. Some were highly anticipating this upcoming camp, bright smiles on their faces as they excitedly listed off all the things they just couldn’t wait to do; ziplining, hiking, cooking their own food, among others. Some weren’t as excited, sulking as they lamented having joined the camp in the first place, or perhaps wailing about how the upcoming week was perhaps going to be the worst week of their lives yet.

But come Friday afternoon, as we approached the end of camp, you couldn’t find a single student who didn’t have a beaming smile on their face, catching up with their friends and relieving hilarious memories, wishing camp had lasted longer.

Year 9 Education Outside The Classroom (EOTC) took place from November 12th to 16th, giving students an opportunity to leave the classroom environment and instead learn and explore out and about in Hong Kong. Themed “The Adventure Race”, Year 9 EOTC abandons the status quo of having its facilitators lead the camp and instead encourages the students to grab the reins, allowing them to not only gain independence, but also to deal with the responsibility of making good decisions.

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The first four days students travel to different locations each day; Lamma Island, Wan Tsai Peninsula, Tung Lung Island, and Mount Davis. In groups of 8 or 9, each led by one of the outdoor experts from Asian Pacific Adventure (APA),  students are expected to travel to these different areas on their own, utilising only public transport along the way. While out and about, students are also expected to buy food for their meals, whether they be prepared meals or merely ingredients. A budget is also given, meaning that they have to think critically about their spendings and make good decisions that will ultimately benefit their team.

Lamma Island consisted of a scavenger hunt around the island. Collection points, or CPs, were scattered throughout the island, and collecting these points often led the various groups to unexplored areas of the vast island. This scavenger hunt lasted approximately three hours and was immediately followed up by a flight contest, where each of the teams had to construct an airplane out of materials such as cardboard and plastic sheets. At the end of the day, all the points were added up - and the last-placing team was sent to the tents.

Wan Tsai Peninsula took place on a remote campsite - so remote that it involved a 45-minute hike in order to get there. This location hosted many activities, those being raft building, pioneering, the push bike obstacle challenge, and ‘the tank’. The activities were a test of teamwork, proving to be a challenge whenever disagreements arose. The night was spent in tents, and teams woke up early the following day, ready to catch a speedboat out of the campsite.

Tung Lung Island was infamously known as ‘the worst location’ among the Year 9 campers. Perhaps the most remote location, teams had to catch a junk boat organised by APA to even reach the island. Groups that had previously gone to Tung Lung recounted to others endless tales of Tung Lung, some claiming that even opening your mouth proved to be a danger as a bee could fly into it at any moment. They were proven wrong, of course, as students began to arrive at the island. A highlight in particular were the activities, which included tyrolean traverse, trebuchet building, rock climbing, and abseiling. As night fell, students gathered around the campfire, cooking foods ranging from burnt corn on the cob to bacon-wrapped asparagus.

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Mount Davis, on the other hand, was the only location to have fully functional and warm showers, spacious dorms for all, and a full kitchen: otherwise known as ‘the nicest location’. After arrival, the different groups went off on a scavenger hunt that took them to places such as hiking trails and the peak. Some points were given on arrival, but others required the group to complete a certain activity. For example, the group had to take photos together at several locations throughout the peak. After arriving back at the campsite, groups had access to a full kitchen, allowing them to cook dishes they hadn’t been able to at other locations, such as steak, for those who were willing to splurge.

The final day entailed a race throughout all of Hong Kong, the final destination being RCHK. Students raced from location to location, varying from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom to the Hong Kong Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui. Upon arriving at RCHK, students immediately reunited with their friends, excitedly recounting their adventures from the last couple of days. The scores were then added up and announced - those who placed in the top three came up to receive medals.

Overall, Year 9 EOTC was an extremely rewarding experience that allowed the students to not only try new activities such as abseiling and rock climbing, but also learn to become more independent as we ventured off into other - albeit much lower-stakes - activities; trying to buy all our food in the fastest possible time, or cooking the best meal, or just running to catch a junk boat. `