At Tintern, our three part Camps Program at Year 9 provides a structured sequence of outdoor experiences that allows students to challenge themselves both physically and mentally, ultimately building resilience and self-confidence. While words like resilience may get thrown around in varied contexts these days, I mean it in the truest sense of the word: asking students to pack all their food, water, clothing and shelter into a hiking pack and head off into the wilderness for 3 days of hiking at Wilsons Promontory is a very real way of building resolve and helping students understand that, during this interesting time of adolescence, they do have personal strength within them to keep pushing through adversity. This 3 day hike also allows friendships to form, ensuring all students have a strong support network of peers around them as they begin their Year 9 experience.
The beauty of running our program in three parts is that it allows students to implement the lessons they have learnt on camp into their lives back at school. After the bushwalks in Term 1, our Winter Camp experience in Term 3 at Camp Howqua is the next progressive step in our experiential learning program. The students are presented with a range of adventurous, challenging and risky activities. While all the preparation, checks and balances assure that the ‘real risk’ is taken away, the perceived risk of travelling down the Big River in a raft with 5 of your peers creates a sense of fun and excitement. It also reinforces the concept that risk taking behaviour is all around us, however, by educating ourselves on safety and the possible consequences involved, we are able to make more informed choices in our life when confronted with the idea of risk.
Next week, the girls will complete the final instalment of the Camps Program by undertaking their Summer Expeditions. This year will see students sea kayaking at the Gippsland Lakes, white water rafting on the Mitchell river and rock climbing at the sea cliffs of Freycinet. It is great to see students taking responsibility for these trips, helping to make decisions regarding travel route, weather, the timing and structure of the day and also for looking after their peers. By letting students take more control over the preparation and structure of the trip, they are learning the valuable lesson of action and consequence: if they choose to begin cooking dinner later in the day, doing their dishes in the dark becomes challenging. If they choose to wake up late, they may have to paddle in windy conditions. If they don’t follow their meal plan for the week, they may have to get creative with their food choices. This is the perfect way for the students to conclude the Camps Program and their Middle School journey as they can transition into their life in the Senior College armed with self-confidence, resilience, comradery and tenacity. It has been a pleasure working with the students this year, watching them create memories on these camps that will last a lifetime and I look forward to sharing stories, pictures and videos with families upon our return.