Staff was present in order to fulfill the fundamental role of assigning duties to the children, to offer advice, and to give help if needed. The children could consult staff when they were having trouble, but because we wanted them to think for themselves, we would not do things for them. They also had to manage tools and food by themselves.
By the time they begun eating dinner that first night, the sunlight was gone, and it had already started to grow dark. The children had learned how to properly use a hatchet to make firewood, make a campfire quickly, and cook a delicious first meal. They had fun coming up with solutions to problems they encountered while living in the snow.
The weather was pleasant every day, and it was slightly warmer during daylight hours. We met up with an expert on the local area around the mountain, and went walking with them near the base of Mt. Makihata. We had the chance to explore and discover some of the wonders in the village for ourselves, and we heard more about the people that lived in Shimizu when we departed for the woodland around the village. We were able to experience the way it feels to be living so close to nature.
For fun, some participants slid down the snowy mountain slope on their bottoms. In exchange for a real sled, we used empty fertilizer bags. At first, only one participant was sledding, but by the end, all seven participants, as well as the staff, were sliding down the slope together, and their resounding laughter could be heard echoing all across the mountainside.
The children were only here for four days, but they were able to impressively adapt into this lifestyle; however, the population among mountain communities is rapidly declining in this region.
Through their cooperation while living in the midst of nature, the children were able to form strong bonds together, and enjoy their time living in the snow. They skillfully navigated their way through difficult times; through times where they thought they couldnt go on; through times where it felt as though they were frozen from the cold.
Nevertheless, as they spent time in the freezing snow and pitch-blackness, they looked up at the sky and found countless stars overhead. They took root within the earth and within the magnificent natural scenery around them. I believe that while there is convenience in larger cities, the experiences they offer are not as flavorful. At the end of the camp, we were left with our bright red, sunburned facesthe mark of an enjoyable time living in a country made of snow.
(Translation, Alexis Baker)