The heat of summer is the time to embrace nature, with summer vacation a popular time for children to take part in educational camps. Even though rain had fallen for several days in a row, the enthusiasm of all involved in this national park youth camp, the second following the first in 2009, was not dampened. This year’s camp was held in Taroko National Park Headquarters’ National Park Mountaineering School. The participants were happy the venue was Taiwan’s main platform for the passing on of mountaineering and outdoor activity skills and knowledge. During the camp, respect for nature, self-sufficiency and teamwork were emphasized and the children left with a healthy respect for nature and appreciation of the importance of ecological conservation.
Apart from learning to respect nature, during the camp the children carried and cooked their own food and learned how to look after themselves and work as a team. At the beginning of the wilderness activities the instructors divided participants into groups to plan the equipment packing, food purchasing and job allocation. Following the spirit of the Leave No Trace movement only the amount of food needed was purchased to lower the impact of the activity as much as possible and to avoid waste and reduce the load carried by participants. Most of the children had little experience of cooking and were excited at the prospect of cooking their own food. To avoid the need to light a cooking fire in the mountains the food was cooked, cooled and packed before setting out. The spirit of cooperation shown by all the young participants really impressed instructors.
Taroko’s Lushui trail is of great cultural and historical value. It is part of the Old Cross-Hehuan Mountain Road and is about two kilometers long. It has spectacular views and rich ecological resources. As the children walked along it forests, cliffs and bridges came into view. On the edge of the cliff they enjoyed a bird's eye view of the Liwu River valley and Lushui river terrace, leaving them amazed at the magic of nature. The trail also has remnants of Japanese era police stations from the time the Old Cross-Hehuan Mountain Road was built. As they viewed the mud walls and the broken old wine bottles the instructor told the children of the great changes Taroko has undergone over the last 100 years.
The most unusual activity during the camp involved leaving children alone on the trail, without advance warning, for 50 minutes, supervised from a distance to ensure their safety, to think deeply, or quietly observe the night creatures or the stars. After the activity everyone shared their feelings. In the tranquil pitch-black wilderness night the children came to feel more respect for nature.
During the “2010 Second National Park Youth Camp” activities to follow, participants will, while experiencing the magical charm of nature close-up, will learn how to challenge the self, work together with others and how to get along harmoniously with the natural environment. These will surely be the best gifts then participants receive this summer!
Translated by：Kevin Lax
Source：Taroko National Park Headquarters