I am an African. Born and bred in the mining heartland of South Africa. In the first 30 years of my life I never even saw snow, let alone considered skiing. So how did I go from that, to being passionate about taking children skiing?
In March of this year, 30 children from Edenhurst and 4 members of staff embarked on a ski adventure to Austria. Despite the odds being stacked against us and having multiple curve balls thrown at us, we went, and it was amazing! At times my own Growth Mindset was tested and the only reason I persisted was a firm belief that this trip was exactly what our children needed. This trip was transformational for every child who attended. A school ski trip may come across as being elitist or posh but that is not why we do it. Anyone who knows me and Edenhurst will know that these values do not chime with my own. We take children skiing because of the lessons they learn and the personal growth they experience. Never in my teaching career have I seen a more powerful vehicle to develop Character in children. Character development is at the heart of an Edenhurst education.
Skiing is hard! As a school leader, it also represents arguably the highest level of risk imaginable. Yet, I choose to do it? We teach the Edenhurst children the importance of taking risks as part of the learning process, so we have to act as role models. Yes, the risk is great, but the reward is greater. I love this quote from John F. Kennedy and use it often in my assemblies: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
The Edenhurst children never disappoint and they were absolutely amazing. Every child skied all day every day and we came back with no injuries. Homesickness did not exist. The amount of progress they made in their skiing was huge. However, the personal development that we as a staff team observed was the most impressive part of this trip. Children learnt to organise their equipment, keep their rooms tidy, try foreign foods, push their physical limits, survive without technology and be self-sufficient. The same children who had just endured two years of Lockdowns and cancelled holidays. Many of them had never been to a sleepover, let alone a school residential.
For me and the wonderful team of people who work at Edenhurst, helping children become the very best versions of themselves is what drives us. The four of us who were privileged enough to accompany this group of young people to Austria, saw this daily.
So to answer my original question: Why on earth not!
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