Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-Selected photo (8)
Chantal Gamble
31 March, 2023

Learning independence: primary expeditions 2023

Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-i-VWXxGnS-X2
During March our Year 4 to Year 6 children were off on their first residential expeditions and Year 3 had their first school sleepover in preparation for their own expeditions next year. Our primary expeditions are purposefully set up with a natural progression to independence, from a school sleepover in Year 3 leading all the way up to kayaking and hiking through the Vietnamese Jungle in Year 6. These exciting adventures are packed full of fun activities that foster new friendships and build independence and confidence. However, following 4 years without expeditions our current Year 4-Year 6 have not had the opportunity to develop these skills over time, which makes their drive, determination and rapid growth even more of a triumph.

Year 6 - Making the Leap to Cat Tien

Our Year 6 students had the hardest challenge of all, having not been on residential excursions yet, but tested themselves with the most physically and mentally demanding of all the primary expeditions - Cat Tien National Park. Every student proved to be up for the challenge. 

Year 6 worked together to build shelters and spent some time playing games together and settling into their surroundings before a busy schedule of activities on day 2. Starting the day off with kayaking to peacefully crafting candles and then hiking through the jungle shows the range of activities students had in just one day and how they were challenged both physically and mentally. 

Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023

“It has been fun kayaking because I had a fun experience paddling into the jungle and hearing the sounds of nature all around me” - HyunSeo

Along their hike, they were lucky to have heard from the guides of the Chau Ma people and learnt a lot about how they had lived sustainably for thousands of years. 

Finally, the students were fortunate enough to cycle through the forest and stop at the “Free the Bears” Sanctuary where they crafted enrichment toys, hiding food inside bamboo and banana trunks for the bears to sniff out. The group learned more about the sanctuary and how the organisation rescues bears from cruel living conditions, where they are kept for their bile to be used in “traditional medicine”. 

Following this, the students took a silent walk in nature cultivating peace and calm within and found their way to Stonehill farm which grows cacao and bananas. Feeding the adorable goats on the farm, they learnt how the goat milk was used in the production of their organic chocolate.

Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023-Learning Independence Primary Expeditions 2023

“Parents and teachers were immensely proud of how the Y6 students developed their independence and resilience whilst away from home. There can be no doubt that they are now more ready than ever for the challenges of moving to secondary school next year. Well done Year 6.”
- Mr Mike Martin, Head of Year 6. 


Year 5 in Nature at Hippo Farm

Year 5 headed to Hippo Farm, just an hour away from Thao Dien, where there are zero hippos! There are in fact many horses, which in Greek might be called a Hippo! The family-run farm is passionate about permaculture and sustainability and our students gained a new appreciation for their food when they spent time working on the land for themselves. An experience truly in nature; the groups got messy mixing clay, soil and straw to build the walls of a new bungalow. 

From riding the ponies, learning how to care for them and feed them, as well as care for themselves, our students developed a love for nature, a sense of responsibility for themselves and care for each other. 



“Our students embraced the challenges wholeheartedly and we could see their independence grow and develop by the hour! Hippo Farm staff were really impressed with our students’ manners and abilities, and our BIS staff were understandably very proud.”
- Ms Jude Handscombe, Head of Year 5. 


Beach Fun with Year 4 in Long Hai 

Our Year 4 students took their first residential expedition away from home to Long Hai, with the aims of developing independence and self-confidence in a safe environment, building teamwork and social skills and to further discovering their “Explorers and Adventurers” IPC topic. This expedition is a test of their independence, in preparation for more adventurous activities like Hippo Farm and Cat Tien in the coming years. Alongside swimming, sandcastle building and hunting for treasure, our students were challenged to try something new! Whether it be making a new friend, tasting a new food or trying out a new activity, the children pushed themselves outside of their comfort zones in order to grow and develop themselves.

“The children rose to this challenge admirably and should be incredibly proud of their achievements, they were excellent ambassadors for our school.”
- Mr Oliver Bone, Head of Year 4.

Independence Begins with a Small Step for Year 3 - School Sleepover

Leaving not just the comfort of your home and family but also the familiarity of your daily life is a huge challenge for some children, so our students are eased in slowly and given time to adapt and grow their independence, starting with the Year 3 school sleepover. 

Right from packing their bags, the students had to learn their own preparation and organisation skills. They became 100% responsible for all of their own belongings, setting up their own beds for the night and finding their own strategies to relax before bedtime. Every child proved to themselves and their parents just how independent and resilient they can be! 

“It was so wonderful to witness the children find strategies to help settle themselves and others. Some wanted to snuggle with a friend, others counted sheep and one or two needed to read by torchlight. It was a testament to the children who struggled to sleep but were respectful and didn’t disturb others. All the Year 3 teachers are so proud of all our children.”
- Ms Elaine Gillan, Head of Year 3. 

Whilst the plan for Primary expeditions is certainly focused on nurturing independence over time from the Year 3 sleepover all the way to the year 6 adventures in the jungle, this cohort of students has impressed us tremendously with their rapid growth, determination, grit, confidence, resilience and perseverance. Our students made unforgettable memories and new friendships, wrapping up the term with a bang!

Congratulations to our students on your growth and thank you to all of the teachers, staff and tour operators that made these outstanding experiences possible.