The Groan Zone


One thing is for damn sure…ASIJ knows how to do field trips.  I’m not sure if anything can top sea kayaking, snorkeling and surfing last year on the Izu coast, but this year’s 8th grade trip to Lake Saiko comes in a close second.

The Lake Sai field trip is one designed to challenge students to push themselves to their limit; to get out of their comfort zone and enter into the “groan zone”.  Outward Bound of Japan runs this 2 1/2 day course where students are challenged with tasks such as rock climbing, orienteering, overcoming obstacles such as getting all team members over a 12ft wall and building a raft that they must all be able to float on safety.  The majority of these tasks takes a great deal of teamwork and the ability to work collaboratively.  My team did moderately well…starting off horribly, but learning as they went. It was surprising to observe the girls full on entering their groan zone while my boys stayed nice and cozy in their comfort zone for the most part. If I were to predict beforehand I would have definitely hypothesized the opposite.

Interestingly enough, students reflected mostly on the fact that they were required to cook all their meals themselves.  What a sight to see!!  Some of these kids had never used a pot in their lives and here they were building their own fires to cook meals they had never cooked before.  They were all successful albeit some probably stayed a tad bit more hungry than others.

As for me: sharing a tatami mat cabin with three 8th grade girls and being out in the rain and cold is not my idea of a good time.  However, experiencing the groan zone myself allowed me to empathize with my students and truly encourage them to challenge themselves as much as possible.  I just don’t see why teachers couldn’t stay at the hotel down the street….



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