The thrill of adventure provides the opportunity for growth no matter what age we are. For adults, this is the reason WildChina offers our WildChina Explorer Grant. For student groups though, for safety’s sake, the activity has to be a little more structured. WildChina’s recent trip to the Xilamuren grasslands with a Beijing international school was a perfect example of student adventure. Far out in the countryside, the 14-year-old students participated in a “Hardship Hike” designed by WildChina to expand their boundaries and give them a heightened sense of accomplishment.
The Hardship Hike was a 3 mile (5 kilometers) race of 10 groups of 10-12 students which began at a dirt road that dead-ended in the grasslands and finished in the middle of the plains where the groups would set up camp that night. Unlike a simple race though, in order to cross the circuitous route, the teams would have to use a map and would be required to complete a selection of hardships. These hardships included, but were not limited to, the students all being tied to each other with string, one of the students being blindfolded, a series of riddles that had to be answered to finish the race, and finally the transport of their own tents to the campsite across the course.
Although there was some muted grumbling at the beginning of the course, the mood at the end could not have been more different. Elated with their sense of achievement for having finished the course, each of the students was visibly beaming or uproariously laughing with their friends. They had defeated the challenge, they had pushed their own borders, and in the process, they had learned a little more about themselves.
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