Posted on: Wednesday 28 March 2018
Posted in: Middle School
The outdoor education program during Challenge Week is a significant element of the Middle School experience. Through the process of being active and engaged in the outdoor environment, students are drawn to contribute their ideas, abilities and energy to their group. They are encouraged to stretch themselves, to be the best they can be, to contribute thoughtfully, and to reflect on their performance. These experiences focus on developing relationships, the importance of assisting others, making considered decisions, taking responsibility for one’s actions and providing leadership based on honesty, integrity and optimism.
The following comments from staff and students at Year 9 encapsulates their experience:
Here at base camp on the last day of our adventures I am looking at a group of positive, powerful, confident women who have overcome challenges such as hiking in rain, camping out with bush toilets, cooking their own meals and for some, dealing with the unfamiliar Australian bush with its noises and insects. They have supported each other, embraced the challenges and are proud of how they have coped with the week.
“I didn’t think I could do that big hill and then when we did I just felt so proud.”
Some of our international students stepped up to explore the Australian bush for the very first time, enjoying the spectacular stars at night, discovering the incredible views across the Kenilworth countryside, and trying to remain calm while identifying the many unfamiliar sounds of the wildlife after dark! When you consider the differences between ‘tent life’ and the cityscapes some of our girls have called home for most of their life, this is certainly an incredible experience for them.
“I didn’t know about vegemite, earthworms or cane toads – now I do!”
Watching some of our boarding girls who hail from country properties share their skills and positive energy is also a wonderful part of camp. Their familiarity and confidence on the land is an asset to their teammates, and camp is their time to shine.
“This is just like what we do at home. I love fire.”
Camping builds on practices and concepts learnt at school. It encourages resilience and independence, problem-solving, team work, collaboration, trust and empathy.
“I got really scared in the tent on the first night and I was holding hands with my friend. She was so nice to me, encouraging me when I needed it. On the morning of the last day, I woke up and I don’t even know why I was scared. I guess you can change a lot in a week.”
The experiential adventure activities have certainly created opportunities for new friendships to develop, and we have found that these relationships are often important and long-lasting.
“I think we probably won’t remember lots about things that happen in classrooms when we get older, but I think we will always remember some of the things that happened on camp, like our friends, and like the funny things that happened. They are the best memories.”
“You get to know people when you get to share mud and mosquito group.”
Appreciation and gratitude have grown over this week. It is amazing how good a shower in fresh tank water feels after being hot, muddy and sweaty. The experience of camping heightens awareness for the simple things and what is truly important in life.
“Camping makes you appreciate all the facilities and little things we have at home that we just take for granted.”
“It was really nice just sitting around the camp fire talking to everyone.”
Some of the comments we have heard from the girls truly show that we have achieved our aim to challenge them to step outside of their comfort zones, and examine and grow their abilities and support others along this journey.
“I was crying on day one and then at the end on the long hike I was in front as we walked in. I totally didn’t think I could make it to the end when we started, but then I did. It was so hard, but so good. I am really proud.”
“The best things in life are the simple like friends, singing on a hike, stars and dry socks.”
The role of the teachers going on camp in providing encouragement, guidance, and enough personal space for the girls to become more independent, confident, and self-reliant cannot be underestimated. I thank our wonderful staff for all that they have done to make this a successful experience for the girls.
The National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) for Years 7 and 9 will be held on Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16, and Thursday 17 May. For planning purposes parents need to be aware of these dates as all students are expected to participate. Students who are absent on test days, may undertake catch-up tests on Friday 18 May. Later in the year you will receive your daughter’s personal NAPLAN report. The report will describe her particular skills in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation) and Numeracy. For more information about the tests, please visit the NAP website at www.nap.edu.au.
Next term the girls are required to wear the winter felt hat to school and are expected to wear their blazer for formal occasions such as the ANZAC Day Service on Thursday 26 April as well as Tuesday Assemblies. The holidays are also an ideal opportunity for parents to check that the girls’ uniforms are in good repair and that all items are labelled clearly. I wish you and your families a safe and relaxing Easter break and hope to see many of you at the Parent Teacher Interviews at the beginning of Term 2.
Head of Middle School