Taiwan With Teens

The students at my school go camping once a year, and I’ve always had a blast chaperoning these trips. This year, I got to supervise an outdoor experience in the mountains of northern Taiwan. Normally on these trips we stay in tents, but I got lucky and was assigned the one trip where the students stay in a mountain lodge.

Orientation activities with the kids

The view from our mountain lodge

5.5k Mountain Lodge is set on Lalashan Mountain near Fuxing, Taiwan. It overlooks a massive valley, and I was reminded of my view in Quito, although at a much lower altitude in Taiwan, the vegetation is much more dense. Each morning the adults would wake up a half hour before the kids to sit on the patio with a view and drink our coffee in silence.

Cherry blossoms in full bloom

Nearby waterfalls we hiked to

Because we use an outdoor education company to arrange all the activities and meals, I pretty much got to tag along and experience the trip with the kids. It was a serious challenge for me! We did a river crossing and a gorge hike, hiked to hot springs and waterfalls, and spent a day on a farm. The kids got to take local Taiwanese dance classes, make mochi, and drink boba tea. You couldn't have packed more fun in a week if you tried.

We put the kids to hard work on a farm for a day

Showing off moves from the Taiwanese dance classes

Our guides rocking their traditional garb

I was with 48 ninth graders on this trip, and they were freaking wonderful. There was teamwork and bonding and the kids encouraged each other to take risks- all of the growth you want to see from a trip like this. It made me think about the idea of teenagers as terrible. Who says teenagers have to have a terrible time adjusting through puberty and be nasty to each other and their parents and have an identity crisis? I'm down with a bit of rebellion of course, my hair was pink in my junior yearbook (sorry 'rents!), but my students in Hong Kong are the most well adjusted teenagers who are genuinely delightful to be around, and it makes me think that the US is doing something wrong.

My group drinking their coveted boba tea on the last day

Anyways, the trip was special as we really formed attachments like a family over the week long camp, and everyone was super bummed to go home. This was my second time in Taiwan and it was amazing yet again. I'd love to go back and rent a scooter and explore on my own, but I have absolutely no complaints about getting a free trip there through my school!

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