Week Four in Term One is a special week for Prescott College students. Students in Year 8, 9 and 10 participate in their Outdoor Education camping experience. Year 8 students go to Narnu Farm on Hindmarsh Island (Goolwa, South Australia). Year 9 students camp at Halls Gap in the Grampians National Park, Victoria. Students live in tents, cook their own food, hike, rock climb, high ropes and abseil. Year 10 camp involves canoeing and hiking in the Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria. They live out of the backpacks they carry, and go canoeing, hiking and surfing.
Some may question the value of these activities and their place in the school curriculum. It has been my experience that these types of activities are vital if students are to receive a complete education. I personally observed several examples of students growing in character and skills whilst participating in the Year 10 Camp. The rain began Tuesday night (no, students don’t grow if you water them), and continued to fall until 10pm the following day. A common belief in our culture is that if you get wet, you will get sick, however, this is not necessarily true. Our students learnt new camping skills and continued to participate in activities, despite getting wet. These kind of life events challenge them to look at things in new ways, to develop skills in Preparation, Risk-Taking, (in the positive sense), Open Mindedness and Tenacity, all of which are found in our Prescott Learning Dispositions. These skills, while learnt outside of the classroom, are readily transferable back into a student’s academic life. They contribute strongly to positive goal setting, as well as the desire and will to pursue these goals.
Outdoor Education Camps are a learning experience. Yet unlike a typical classroom, there are no distractions regarding due dates, assessment criteria, or grades. Camps are an opportunity for myself and the other teaching staff to get to know and understand each student as a whole person. During camp, I learn what foods my students like to eat, what sports they enjoy playing, and how they cope with heights… and they learn the same about me!