Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grade 12 Bonding Trip

Each year our school sends a few teachers out for a weekend with the 12th grade students on a bonding trip. In an effort to build community and start the year off right our students spent a weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the border of Austria in the German Alps. Marisa and I chaperoned the trip, along with a few other co-workers. Despite the six-hour bus ride we had an amazing weekend with an absolutely beautiful setting. The parents of the students organized the trip while we played the role of responsible adults. We all stayed at a nice, clean hostel and had a company take care of team-building exercises, scenic hikes, and a high-ropes course.

The view in Garmisch as we hiked up to the high-ropes course.

The high-ropes course was unlike any I'd been to before. They had nine different courses of varying degrees of difficulty and after a brief introduction and safety demonstration they let you go and try any of the courses that you wanted at your own pace. It actually worked out a lot better than having the entire group watch two people climb up a wall and encourage them. This is me on the most difficult course, laying out for a rope to swing to the other platform. Don't doubt the skills!

Me and some students that finished "Affen Himmel" or "Monkey Sky/Heaven" - the most difficult of the nine courses. It was pretty cool going through because you would always have someone in front of you to learn how to do the next element and someone behind that needed help. These kids were studs.

Marisa caught this cool shot of a student on one of the elements. I was amazed at the trust that the staff put into the particpants' hands. After the safety demo you were on your own and there weren't many staff members around to help out. It was totally safe, but Marisa and I both agreed that this kind of course wouldn't exist in the States. If it did there would have to be a staff member stationed at every tree making sure people don't hurt themselves. Maybe it's our culture of filing lawsuits when we do something stupid?

The teachers had to show off their skills in group jump-roping. The goal by the end of the weekend was to have 18 students jump rope at least once at the same time.

The goal in this team-building exercise was to get all team members over the fence without touching the string. Since I was the heaviest they decided to toss me over first so that I could help lift everyone else over afterwards.

Alpine cattle - yes, they actually wear bells and you can hear them ringing all over the mountainside. Some of them had the short little curved horns as well.

On Sunday we took a hike through Partnachklamm (Partnach Gorge) and the views were spectacular. Unfortunately the lighting was low, so not all of our photos turned out so well.

Partnach Gorge

While walking through the gorge we came into an opening where people had made dozens of these stacked stones. I'm not sure what the significance is, but they were kind of interesting.

Now this is the Alps that you picture isn't it?

Partnach Gorge

After finishing our hike through the gorge we ended at the ski jump course and stadium that was used when Garmisch hosted the winter olympics back in 1936. They still use it for competitions today and it's an impressive site.

We had visited Garmisch back in February for a short ski trip and it was nice to come back during a totally different time of year. We still love this alpine town and we'd recommend it to anyone. The trip was also a success in that there were no serious injuries and no damage done to the hostel in the process. Now we're all bonded and ready to take on the year.

--Justin
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