There are no pencils or paper on the trips. Children in Germany aren’t taught to read and write until they are 6. That leaves time for such tasks as using knives to whittle sticks for roasting sausages. Notes from America’s Wild West set the tone. Tilda’s name for the trip: Little Wolf of the Brave Starfish Tribe.Personally, I think this is great. Anyone else?
The journeys, called Kitafahrten, take place once a year at many German kindergartens. They are a Teutonic crash course in becoming independent—with minimal allowances for the tender age of participants.
Stuffed animals top the packing list. Some campers revert to their “terrible twos”—which isn’t that far to travel for campers who are only 3. Chaperones dole out sweets to ward off homesickness. “If you miss your parents, you can eat a bonbon and you will feel better,” Katrin Sperling, Tilda’s teacher, recalls telling the children.
While safety is certainly a concern, teachers don’t engage in the kind of hypervigilant supervision that is commonplace in the U.S. Tilda’s group camped on an island. Nearly all of the 4- and 5-year-olds were nonswimmers. On a different trip, some children cut themselves with Swiss Army knives they were given to carve wood, recalls Henrieke Basker, whose then 4-year-old daughter was on the trip. “Some parents weren’t so amused about that,” she says.
Phone calls from parents are typically verboten. “We will call you if we need to,” Ms. Sperling recalls telling two worried mothers before this year’s trip. Parents got three terse texts over four days. “We have arrived,” said the first.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Fascinating WSJ article on the German habit of sending children as young as two on overnight camping trips: