Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Field Trip" to Switzerland

Most adorable little old couple that I saw walking around all week 

Saint Oyen- Mom and Dad, this is your future town!
When I was in elementary school, field trips were to the museum or planetarium. 

On one particularly exciting Girl Scout outing, we slept at the zoo. At my new school, 4th grade and up takes week long "Bonding Trips" all around Europe, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the trip to Torgon, Switzerland with 34 nine year olds.

Hiking boots and leggings
to work=awesome

For weeks leading up to the trip, the kids asked billions of questions. 

We'd set aside the "Activity" or "Share" time of Morning Meeting (usually, Morning Meeting includes Message, Greeting, Activity, and Share) to talk about what we were excited or worried about for the trip, and for me to answer as many questions as I could. Seeing as I'd never been on the trip either, I didn't always have a ton of answers! We left at 8:15am on Monday morning, waving goodbye to tearful parents. Most of the kids had never even been to a sleepover, so leaving the country for a week was a huge deal! We got pretty lucky on the bus ride- no pukers :) I cant even explain how beautiful the drive was- all mountain views and picturesque villages (Mom and Dad, I found your future town! Saint Oyen, Italy). 

View from the lodge was AMAZING!

Around lunch time, we pulled into Torgon.

There were six wonderful, amazing, fun, helpful counselors (all with awesome nature names!) that divided the kids into three groups. We tried to make the groups so there were an even number from each class, split up any kids that fought (or girls who brought out each others' mean sides!), and weren't sleeping in the same rooms. The actual camp itself was pretty nice. There was a building with a dining room, a little sitting area, and upstairs, a rock climbing wall. Then there was the lodge where we all slept. Dividing them into groups of 4 or 5, where each kid was with at least one person they chose (we had them list 5 people they'd like to be with), kids who fought weren't in the same room, and no one who wasn't a native Italian speaker was stuck alone in a room with all Italians was hard work, but eventually it worked out! The other teachers and I each had our own rooms. For the most part, the rooms were great! The only bad part was that the doors were really hard to open, so I walked into the rooms many times to tell the kids to quiet down only to find someone desperately trying to get the stuck bathroom door open. 

Starting the hike on Day 1.

Monday and Friday were mostly travel, but the teachers and I split up the days so we could be with each group for a day.

Tuesday I went on the hike. The other two days were split into two day time activities but hike day was all day. I'm not really sure what this means in miles (8 maybe?) but about 12km of hike was so much for such little kiddos! It really was incredible though. The mountains were gorgeous, and it was sweet to see how much the kids supported each other. 

One of my little photographers

My absolute favorite part was the solo hike. 

I went ahead and the counselor stayed back, sending kids off one by one in minute intervals so they could hike for about 15 minutes alone, listening to the sounds of nature. It was so peaceful! One of my little guys was so sweet; he finished first and as each kid came to the stopping point, he'd meet them to give a high five or a hug and say good job. They all supported each other and were so caring. One little guy was having a lot of trouble and was soooooo slow (my arm hurt so badly the next day from literally dragging/carrying him up the mountain), so they let him set the pace by making him the leader. When he'd stop they'd all start up with encouraging words and congratulating him on how well he was doing. 

Even the cows were cooler in Switzerland!
It was nice to divide up the days because then we'd get to see all of the different activities but also get to know the entire 4th grade and not just our own classes.

One of the best parts for the kids was all of the independence. They got to make their own sandwiches for lunch, and felt so grown up doing it! And while we would tell them they really needed to take showers and brush their teeth, it was mostly up to them (until they got too stinky) when they made the time to do it. They also learned to "Bust a 50" or "Bust a 100" in the woods... It's the little things  that make them happy heehee. 

So cute with their walking sticks. They spent all
week trying to find the perfect one!
I'd love to show all the kids mud facepaint, but I don't
think I'm allowed, so I'll just show mine!

The other two days were full of lots of different groups and activities. 

In "Living With Nature" they learned to make a shelter and build a fire, and in "Earth Works" they learned about ecosystems and played a bunch of fun games. That one they particularly loved, maybe in part because the leader was Italian and would explain things to them in their own language (the other counselors were Portuguese, Hungarian, South African, and two Americans). The next day we went to "Where Are We," where they learned to read and make maps and use a compass, and went rock climbing. 

To me, the most challenging part was being one of the three Mom's to all the kids. 

Fourth grade is at the older end of elementary school, but they still really are such babies! From nannying days, I remember putting one kid to bed is enough of a challenge, but 34? Ahhhh so crazy!!! At the same time, it was one of my favorite parts. It gave me such a different perspective on the children in my class, and helped me to bond with those who weren't. From my class, my strongest little girl was the one who cried the most over missing her parents, and the little boy I hadn't connected much with yet was the one who held my hand during the "Fluffy Clouds" portion of the night, and asked to borrow one of the stuffed animals I brought since he had forgotten his. Fluffy Clouds was AWESOME! One of the other teachers did this visualization technique that put the kids right to sleep. One of the rooms was all my boys, though we did try to prevent any all-one-class rooms. I'm pretty heavy on terms of endearment (I know, you're probably thinking, "You? Really? I don't believe it."), so I'm always calling them my little darlings or little angels. I went into the boys room to say goodnight and they all had glow sticks on their heads like halos and were like, "Look Miss Streisel! We're you're little angels!" Gahhhh I love being a teacher so much!

My little guy in blue congratulated
every kids accomplishments... Love him!
So many new friendships! The girls in the back are both
 in my class, but hadn't bonded until the trip

Anyways, as homesick as some of them were (I literally had to pull a few onto my lap and hold them until the hysterical crying stopped a bunch of times!), they were so sad to leave and loved camp. The bus ride back was also smooth, and although one girl turned completely green (I finally know what people mean when they say that!), there was no throwing up. The only downer was how obsessed with watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" the kids were. Isn't that weird? I remember watching it once when I was little, but despite how old it is they all loved it. Probably the most annoying, high pitched movie on Earth. What made it better was hearing their little accents refer to the movie over and over again as "Shitty Shitty Bang Bang." Hehehe. What a week :)

The bus driver saw me trying to take a picture of the beautiful view and stopped for
me to take this one. Whatta guy :)

P.S. If anyone knows privacy laws better than I do, PLEASE let me know if any of the pictures of my kiddos aren't okay. I think back of the head pictures should be fine, but feel free to message me if I'm doing anything wrong!! Grazie mille :)

P.S.S. I crossed the first item off of "The List!" Woohoo! Eating chocolate in Switzerland: Completed. 


  1. Love love love reading your blog Jesye!!! it looks like you're having an amazing time!
    What I always did with my kiddo's (and Corrie always encouraged us to do) was to have their parents sign a model release form. It's really simple and it explains what you're using their photos for, where they will be, etc.
    Some parents loved it and some parents said NO! Both were fine... I just kept the signed portion with the students class list. The photographer I interned with did the same thing with her clients no matter what just so she could freely use the images!
    Can't wait to read more!! :) so jealous of the Monet exhibit! xx

  2. Your blog was very informing to read, thank you! I just submitted my application to and hope to get a response back from them soon:)
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    Kids Camps Switzerland