Why would an excellent academic institution like Somerset College disrupt the important learning process to indulge in a camp week? Certainly not because it is fun for the staff, nor is it to support some underlying environmental education philosophy.
Schools must act as bridge between the pillowed life of the home and the hard edges of the real world…… A well run outdoor education program can be invaluable in causing a student to develop the self-assurance and grit needed to cope with the challenges of life.
- Dr Tim Hawkes, Headmaster, The Kings School.
Camp Week was formed purely as conduit in which our students are challenged beyond the scope of their normal daily routine. They learn resilience in the face of adversity, a life skill that cannot be taught in a classroom. The students can learn more about themselves in this one, four night excursion than in all the other weeks of the year.
The Year 10 students spent a week in Mt Barney National Park, they packed their own backpacks, they negotiated their tent groups, they formed their own hike groups, they cooked for themselves, they washed up for themselves, they trekked mountains, they used bush toilets, they missed their daily shower.
The camp doesn’t have any winners or losers, the students can only succeed or fail to master their own personal challenge. All camp groups are set achievable goals, yet all groups must persevere through significant discomfort at times to meet the challenge set. Every child this year succeeded through determination and internal fortitude. The students who very often shine on camp are not always the star athletes, it is very often the quiet child who has the resolve to dig deep and finish the hike without fanfare or medals, much like life itself.
I know all Year 10 will remember their camp week and while the lessons may not always appear clear to the 15 year old mind, those lessons are learnt and the strength of character demonstrated will be evident long past the discomfort of camp is forgotten.
In Year 11, as a reward for the hard work of Year 10 camp, the students choose their camp experience. We had students select the following camps: The Outback Camp, conducted near Warwick, Navigation and Boat handling in the Broadwater, Tall Ship Sailing from Bundaberg to Brisbane and the Fraser Island camp.
A life well lived can be defined as one full of unique and amazing experiences. There is no doubt that the students who attended these camps have had a unique and I hope amazing experience.
Child psychologist, Michael Carr-Gregg blames parents who hover over their cotton-wool kids for raising what he describes as a "marshmallow generation".
We are certainly fortunate at to have the support of parents, the Headmaster and the Board of Somerset College for the continuation of our Outdoor Education programme. Hopefully Somerset College graduates will never be described as the "marshmallow generation".
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