Posted on March 6, 2017
A camp, a camp, my kingdom for a camp!
Experiences on Tintern Grammar camps result in demonstrable growth and development, whether that be on outdoor education-style camps up to 9, the civics-oriented trip to Canberra in Year 6, the City Experience of Year 10, or the more adult-oriented, conference style, camps of Year 11 and 12.
All of these promote self-awareness and mindfulness, are great developers of collaborative awareness and behaviour, develop and sharpen a diverse range of new skills and enrich developing attributes in our young men and women. I know you will have seen this in your children following camp, as I have with my own. The value of these experiences is enormous and the opportunities they offer are also a significant part of what makes Tintern such a great school.
We also have the need to provide these in a balanced program, and, as far as possible, without disruption to the teaching program. The last two weeks have seen our first ‘mass’ camps programs operating. In Week 5 the whole of Senior College (Year 10 to 12) went on camp or conference in the one week, and the following week in Week 6, Year 8 and Year 9 went at the same time. Our Year 7 students will go later this term, and so over three weeks only, we will complete all secondary year level camps. The reason for changing to this ‘mass’ format was to support the quality of the academic and pastoral teaching programs.
Previously, the year level camps in secondary occupied either 7 or 8 weeks of the year, with almost all other students’ having their teaching program disrupted 6 or 7 times with the absence of teaching staff supporting the camps program. While the substitute teaching program is always as well supported as possible, I did not feel we were doing the best for our students in the class room over what amounted to more than 20% of the teaching year. This year the disruption has been minimal, particularly because of the significant work done by the Outdoor Education and Year Level Coordination staff to run these very large and logistically complex weeks off the campus, and in part because the groupings have meant there has only been one week of disruption for any student to this point.
The camps were terrifically successful, and while we are yet to complete the formal reviews, we have begun seeking student feedback with a view to 2018 camps at all secondary year levels. The student suggestions have been insightful and helpful, and will guide our design of camps (particularly the Year 10, 11 and 12 experiences) in 2018. I am very grateful to the students and staff for the thought they have already given this, the feedback that has been provided and the ideas generated.
I’m sure you also join me in thanking our Tintern Grammar staff for their commitment to these programs. Many of the staff who support the camps have young children who they spend up to a week away from, along with advance preparation of lessons for their classes and the correction from those that they return to! Staff will say the balance for that is in the enjoyment of being with the students in a different environment, seeing a different side of the young men and women they see every day at school and I know that many students make similar observations about the staff.
Factis non verbis