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Why School Camps Rock!

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Children of all ages love the great outdoors, especially in this beautiful part of the world where we are blessed with fresh air, weather that our southern friends dream of, flora and fauna that feature on postcards and scenery that makes your heart sing.

One of the best ways for your child to experience the outdoors is at a school camp or outdoor education.  These programs provide facilities that are designed for children; a multitude of safe and supervised activities, and adventurous memories for your child.

It has been recognised that children grow academically and emotionally when they play outdoors.  They acquire an appreciation for the environment, participate in imaginative play, face challenges and learn how to overcome them together, and develop initiative.

School Camps are a valuable and effective way to assist with the overall development of each child.  For primary school aged children camps play an important role in developing resilience and independence away from their families.

In essence, school camps aim to:

  • strengthen relationship between teachers, students and their peers,
  • instil and develop values
  • cater to the student needs
  • provide opportunities for students to develop new skills and knowledge
  • develop leadership skills; and
  • provide unique opportunities for students to connect with God (in Christian based schools).

Principal of Grace Lutheran Primary School, Mr Stephen McGrath says “Our camps begin from as early as Year 1 continuing on each year through to Year 6, building on self-awareness and teamwork.”

Camps can range from rural farm stays and snow fields, to beach environments and big cities.  Students experience activities and challenges that are often unfamiliar to them, whether it is the unique outdoor education experiences such as low ropes courses, team challenges, surfing activities, water safety, orientation or team problem solving, or learning to share collaboratively to work as a small community, sleeping in cabins and bunk houses and eating together in dining halls.  Highlights for students can range from flying fox adventures and outdoor team challenges, to simply enjoying time together around the camp fire.

It is important the children experience life skills such as caring for themselves, packing (which including repacking their sleeping bags into tight fitting bag covers that we all struggle with!), to budgeting for the Year 6 students going on longer interstate trips.

For teenagers, about to embark on a journey into adulthood, time spent away from technology and distractions brings them back to the basics, preparing them for the fortitude, patience and organisation skills required for Year 11 and 12.  The benefits of spending time in the outdoors and getting to know nature are immeasurable.

Schools that have an Outdoor Education program are doing a great service to students.  In particular, an experience of three to four weeks based on high-trust adventure and environmental activities may be of long term benefit.

Writer, Scott Peck, says that for mental health people need to accept that life is difficult and face it with four disciplines, and these can be developed in an excellent Outdoor Education Programme: the capacity to delay gratification (I will work now, play later); accept responsibility (this is my problem, not someone else’s, I will do what I can); be dedicated to truth (facing the truth about yourself and your situation); and be balanced (knowing your limits).

Mrs Ruth Butler, Principal of Grace Lutheran College says “The four endeavours that our Outdoor Education Program, Googa, provides are to create a connection with yourself; with nature; with others; and with your spiritual side.

For older students, attending longer Outdoor Education programs may help them gain a plethora of skills and life experiences including adventure activities, hiking, camping, daily cooking, high ropes, washing and cleaning, responsibility for feeding livestock, preparing devotions, as well as journal and letter writing. It can provide an exciting adventure that will stay with the students for the rest of their lives.

Camps who emphasise a simple outdoor involvement with life’s modern facilities and technology left behind, old fashioned lifestyle sampling bush life, a sense of remote living and making your own entertainment are the ones that leave children and teenagers with skills and experiences that influence a live long change in self efficacy.

A student at one of 2015’s Year 10 groups from Grace Lutheran College said “Overall, my four weeks away has made me appreciate all the time and effort my parents put in. I have had so much fun, but I now know how hard it is to cook and clean daily. When I get home, I am going to help out more.”  Most parents would be happy with that outcome alone!

Whatever their talents or interests, camps and Outdoor Education programs are an essential part of a child’s learning journey. Check out this great video of Brisbane school kids on camp!

If you are interested in an education with camps for your child or an Outdoor Education experience contact Grace Primary on 07 3283 0011 or graceprimary.qld.edu.au and Grace College(Rothwell and Caboolture Campuses) contact 07 3203 0066 or gracecollege.com.au 

Both these schools are joint founders/owners of their own Outdoor Education Centre, Googa which has been operating successfully for 27 years.

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