The trip was organised and co-chaperoned by Sea Canoe Eco Tours, and led on behalf of KIS by Mr Koko (Classroom teaching assistant); Mrs Carter (Year 6 Class teacher and Key Stage 2 phase leader); Mr Singh (Year 6 classroom teacher); Ms Fennema (Year 5 Class teacher) and Mr Cairncross (Sports and swimming teacher).
Mrs Carter explained the purpose of the trip. “As part of the British curriculum, at the end of Key Stage 2, Year 6 students are asked to take part in a residential trip, which is an opportunity for the children to go away to experience being away from home and learn to be responsible for themselves. We also invite the Year 5 students, so the idea is that students can get this experience two years in a row before continuing on to Key Stage 3.”
For many of the students, it’s the first opportunity they’ll get to travel away from home so it’s quite a big deal, notes Mrs Carter.
“They get to learn new things and experience nature first hand, away from their TVs, iPhones and iPads, and above all, it’s an opportunity for them to have a good time and bond with their teachers and classmates.”
On Day 1, the troop headed to the Ratchaprapa Dam at the stunning Chiew Lan Lake in the Khao Sok National Park, where they split into groups of four and checked into their floating, lakeside cabins.
On the first night, students learned a quick and valuable lesson about the boundaries between nature and humankind, when some students forgot to shut off the lights, prompting an infestation of light-hungry insects, and a forced light-out remedy.
The next morning, everyone woke up at 4.30am to prepare for the day ahead, starting with breakfast and a morning swim.
“The students got to experience various sounds, noises and sights. It’s quite a contrast from the comfy air-conditioned rooms that they’re used to,” said Ms Carter.
After packing up, the troop set out for Phu Ta Jor National Park, a massive hill located 13 kilometres off-road in Phang Nga’s lush Kapong district, where they got the conventional camping experience.
“After a bumpy off-road trek up the hill in four-by-fours, we arrived at the camp site, where students began to prep for the evening before winding down to a breathtaking sunset. Students paired up and helped to put up their tents. Some helped get the campfire going, and under the watchful eye of staff, helped with the barbecue. After dinner everyone got to roast marshmallows.”
But the highlight of Phu Ta Jor came in the morning.
“Everyone woke up before dawn, about 5am, to pack everything down before hiking up to the summit of Phu Ta Jor. It was a little scary hiking up in the pitch dark, and then sitting in silence, which was finally rewarded by an amazing sunrise,” recalled Mrs Carter.
The final day comprised of a trip by speedboat to the Surin Islands National Park. Along the way students visited a few Moken sea gypsy villages, went snorkeling and witnessed a memorable encounter with a black hornbill during lunch, before finally making the unwanted return home to Phuket.
But the experience didn’t end with the travels, as students were then asked to recount their trip through journaling, poetry, art and presentation.
“In the week following the trip, the children worked really hard to put together a PowerPoint presentation, in which they recalled the highlights, sights, memories, photos and sketches from the trip. We completed a collective art piece from their sketches during the trip to recreate a photograph, and the students acted out some skits from some of their experiences,” said Mrs Carter.
Indeed, such an interdisciplinary trip proved to be much more than just camping, facilitating rich, outdoor and team-building opportunities to apply observation, learning and knowledge in life sciences, geology, geography, technology and art.
Year 6 student Nellie Alicia reports on a first encounter, “It was my first time seeing a sea snake for real, I can’t describe how it made me feel – it was, ‘Wow!’”
Year 6 student Dylan Felton was asked to sum up the camp in three words, “Exciting; fun; memorable”
Year 6 student Holly Maitland Smith concludes that, “It is important to experience camp so we can be more independent and be with nature, not just stuck in a classroom or at home watching TV.”
Can’t wait for next year’s trip.