Our first Platanus winter sports trip to Austria!

Skifahrer*innen auf dem Hang

We are happy to finally report in detail about our first Platanus winter sports trip to Zell am Ziller in Austria with a total of 47 children and teenagers from Classes 4 to 9. It took place from Friday, 31.03. to Saturday, 08.04.2023.

Our overnight-bus-ride to the destination was more relaxed than we thought given the excitement of all the participants. Everyone fell asleep relatively quickly and the journey flew by. When we arrived in the beautiful, quiet village on the edge of the Zillertal, we were nevertheless all quite tired and first had to find our way around our accommodation, sort out our rooms and pick up the ski equipment from the rental shop. But there was still time for a wonderful sunny afternoon in the leisure park, which was within walking distance of our accommodation. We played football and mini-golf, went climbing, played games, chilled out and ate ice cream.

The next day we really got going. From the highest point of the ski area at 2500m above sea level, where there was still a lot of snow, we had a beautiful view and overall we were very lucky with the weather. It was rather cloudy at the beginning and also foggy one day, but then beautifully sunny. It even snowed, 10 to 20 cm depending on the altitude. There is nothing better than snow on the mountains and spring in the valley.

We had formed 5 ski groups for our Platanus ski & snowboard supervisors and the two ski instructors from the ProZell ski school, Rasmus and Peter:

1) the beginners with Rasmus (Yeah, the first time on skis!),
2) the advanced beginners with our sports teacher and ski trainer Mr Meyer,
Our sports teacher Mr Woythe supported the first two groups as needed,
3) the relaxed advanced skiers with Mrs Krüger or Peter,
4) the fast advanced with Mr Clark, Ms Goll or Peter,
5) the “racers” also with Ms Goll, Mr Clark or Peter.

During the day, Mr Lüer ensured that the ski groups left and returned in an orderly manner to the “base camp”, accompanied the two beginner groups to the ski area and back, took care of the exchange/replacement of ski equipment, took care of children who stayed in the accommodation or came back early from the ski day and was thus the most important point of contact for all of us during the course of the ski day.

The ski groups were changed from time to time, depending on the daily form of the children and the supervisors, the focus and the need for training, especially in groups 3 and 4. There was something for everyone: easy, medium and difficult slopes and the favourite of most students was the much-loved “Funty slope” to the “Mittelstation” (middle station). In the afternoon, almost everyone had a hard time finding an end. During the whole trip, the sporting spirit was clearly in the foreground and at the same time it was perfectly ok to call it a day after the lunch break and return to the “base camp”. It was great for us pedagogues to see how the beginners gave everything to learn quickly and how the advanced skiers became faster and even more confident every day. Especially the “racers” challenged us adults, because they wanted to ski hard the whole day from 9 am to about 4.30 pm with only a 30 min break at lunchtime. The responsibility for our students in a large skiing area and the strong desire to bring everyone home safely therefore required us adults to be in top shape physically and mentally.

For lunch, we always met in a self-catering hut at the “Rosenalm” cable car mountain station, ate our packed lunches that we had made ourselves in the morning and checked in with the other groups. Some students changed groups or even ended the ski day at lunchtime and took the gondola down to the valley.

For us it was no surprise that all students survived their time without mobile phones very well and kept themselves busy in a very old school way, e.g. with board, card and parlour games, bowling, football, mini-golf, climbing, karaoke and of course – the best thing for everyone – just hanging out together, reading, chatting, listening to music, going for walks in small groups, buying sweets and potato chips in the supermarket and making up new games.

Please allow us a little bragging on our own behalf: We had breakfast and dinner in the common room of the accommodation together with a similarly large group of German university students. Both the students and their supervisors were completely blown away by the fact that our students constantly and seamlessly switched from German to English and back again in their conversations, and that they did so on mother-tongue level and at breathtaking speed, especially when singing karaoke together.

On the last day, we had lunch together in a mountain hut with delicious Austrian delicacies. In the afternoon, most of the children took the little train to the waterpark in Mayerhofen with Mr Woythe and Mr Clark, while the others continued to race the slopes and “ski off” the ski passes.

The 9.5 hour return journey on the double-decker bus was rather long, but it ended in a good mood.

Conclusion: We were delighted about wonderful, energetic, social, emphatic, open, flexible, relaxed, cheerful and funny Platanus students – most of them also very independent, some others still learning and having taken a big step towards independence during this trip. And all students mostly kept to the rules, even if some students had to be reminded of them from time to time with a stern look, but that is part of it.

There was a heart-warming team spirit that grew daily over the week and an intense Platanus community feeling across all ages, confirming us once again in our concept and the success of a Gemeinschaftsschule – the social dynamics were fluid, open, warm and responsive from the little ones to the big ones and back again.

It was overall very challenging for our staff and at the same time quite wonderful. We felt that our students had a great time. Seeing “our” children and teenagers try things out, go above and beyond and grow together as a community across age groups was worth the effort of organising and every effort on site.


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