In the early hours of Saturday 25th February a journey began, 25 students and three staff set-off on what was to be a remarkable adventure. The first Snow sports trip in the history of the school was unforgettable for all the right reasons. After a year of preparations and paperwork a 16hr journey took the students from the wet and windy desert plains to a beautiful mountain vista at 1850m. Out of the 25 students we had 15 students who until this moment had never seen or touched “real” snow and as our flight banked on approach to Geneva, every single set of eyes was peering out the window as Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc was presented to us.
Our advanced group on the highest mountain:
As we pulled up in Les Menuires, the somewhat bored and seasoned staff got to removing luggage as the students stood on the sidewalk. Initially they starred at the white powder before them, before poking it and realising it was real snow. Our hotel was located approximately 12m (1200cm) from two of the main lifts, if they hadn’t cleared the path we could have skied literally to the door. Our view from the hotel looked upon the Mont De Le Chambre, Les Menuires highest peak. The town hosted two events during the 1992 Olympics and the torch that held the flame was still located just on the hotel doorstep.
The students were there to take care of themselves, each other and to perfect their skills on the slopes. We took part in 5 hours of intensive skiing and snowboarding for 6 days (the equivalent to 16 weeks of PE lessons!) and had different activities each evening. These included Snow Teacher Making, a Crepe Competition, a Tobaggan and of course… a little snow play ☺
A ski trip is a huge amount of fun, but it also has significant holistic benefits for each child. For many of the students this was the longest time they had spent away from their families, resilience is an important skill to develop, not so that being away from home is easy but having the confidence to be independent is essential in life. Personal management is very important, not just in keeping a room tidy but also keeping all our equipment organised and ensuring you keep your ski gear safe. When a hotel has 136 pairs of ski’s, this is no easy task. Spending our money wisely, each student had an amount of spending money from their parents and it was the students responsibility to ensure they had enough for some food in the airport on the way home. Taking care of the body from repeated exercise is not easy, ensuring we eat enough food and having the energy for the slopes can make or break a day. But, personal interactions are often the toughest challenge, 7 nights and two very long journeys would be psychologically tough for any travelling family… especially if it has 28 super excited members.
The journey was long, the result spectacular. GCSnow left Les Menuires as a popular guest, our students left smiles on all they met and they certainly left their mark on the slopes. The hotel staff believed they were one of the most well manured and polite groups they had ever enjoyed. As we returned, the students were asked about their favourite part of the trip, most could not make a choice as there was too many highlights. Yet they all had one question, “Am I allowed to come next year?” So here we start again… After such a success we are going back again. Are you up to the GCSnow challenge? It’s tough but it is rewarding. For more information please visit the GCS Week Without Walls website on http://gcswww.weebly.com.
Contributed by: Matt Christensen
Athletics Director and CAS Coordinator