A Lesson Learned on the Way to the Outhouse

Takuto Hirosaki
Eiko Gakuen Middle School

My name is Takuto Hirosaki. I'm a third year student at Eiko Gakuen.

There is a unique event in our school. Every second year student has to go camping in the mountains in Tanzawa, where our school has a hut. It may sound nice to you, but I didn't like camping in the hut. There is no television, no modern bathroom, no electricity, no lights, nothing comfortable in the hut. We have to stay there for two nights and three days.

Last year they made me do this camping trip in Tanzawa. At first, I didn't want to take part in this camping trip, because I was used to the comfortable life in the city. Besides, I didn't like insects and I didn't want to climb mountains. I didn't understand why we had to spend an unpleasant time in the inconvenient hut.

On the first day, the weather was fine, but I was not fine. My backpack was so heavy and climbing was so hard that I couldn't catch up with the others in my group. Finally, one of the teachers decided to put my backpack in the car. I felt like a failure. I was the only boy without a backpack.

It took us three hours to climb from the starting point to the hut. We were very wet and very tired. There were no showers, no baths, and no hot water. But the hut was surrounded by a beautiful green forest. We could hear the sound of a rocky stream by the hut. My life in the mountains started.

We enjoyed playing in the ice cold stream in the afternoon. In the evening we cooked our dinner by ourselves. During dinner, it was getting darker and darker outside. I hoped that the weather would be clear and that we could see very many stars, but unfortunately not a star could be seen. It was cloudy. Strange to say, I was not disappointed. Instead, I was deeply moved by such a dark night. The darkest night that I have ever experienced.

By that time, I was beginning to like the life at the hut. But I was wrong. I shouldn't have said that.

At midnight, when I had to go to the toilet, which was in a different kind of building about ten meters down the hill from our sleeping place, I had to walk down this little hill in the total darkness. Even with my flashlight in my hand, I was scared by the darkness. The light was not strong enough to reduce my fear. Why did I have such trouble in order just to go to the toilet? As you can guess, the toilet building was not at all modern. Also, on the way to the toilet, the biggest trouble was that there were many, many leeches, which bit our legs and drank our blood! Though I was walking carefully wearing heavy socks, I was bitten in the leg by a leech. It was drinking my blood and getting fat like a slug. Moreover, some leeches got under our blankets and made my friends' legs bloody. I knew these were big chances for leeches to get food, but we became their food and we hated them. Disgusting!

I don't think I enjoyed these three days, but surely I had one experience. It was that I saw the real nature for the first time. And this experience taught me that I am weak before nature. We live in such a pleasant city every day and we often go outdoors in order to enjoy nature, but I think it is not so easy to live with wild nature, which has not been made tame for humans. By this camping, I think that the teachers want us to realize that nature is something superior and that it is much greater than us.

Because of this camp, I learned something profound. Do you agree?

Thank you.

(1-5 Speech in 54th Contest, 2002)

(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun

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