I have just returned from camp, a little weary to be sure, but also quite delighted with the way the program served the boys and the manner in which they responded. Year 4 spent three days at Anglesea last week, and during the previous week Year 5 headed to the bush of Lancefield.  The camps extend over three days and take the boys away from the comforts of home into a different environment with its own set of challenges, opportunities and expectations. These camps give boys time to be with one another, to share experiences that may be new and challenging, as well as the opportunity to get a better sense of themselves. The camps focus on outdoor experiences that encourage participation, cooperation, team building, problem solving and the growth of confidence in an enjoyable, supportive setting. 

Netting in the lagoon at Airlie’s Inlet had the year 4 boys totally engaged with the thrill of the catch and the wonder of the variety of creatures they had gathered to admire, assess and release.  They were up to their knees in nature and loving it! While there was excitement there was also plenty of education as our naturalist experts presented the context and asked questions that required the boys to think beyond who had caught the biggest or brightest specimen.

Mastering the skills of canoeing and working cooperatively to get the craft to go in the intended direction had plenty of fun, frustration and challenge. For some boys it came easily, while others had to work at it. Boys were learning about themselves and were gaining the satisfaction that comes from adding a new skill and experience to one’s repertoire.  Many learnt the value of persisting and repeated practice. Climbing the lighthouse took some boys into their uncomfortable zone, but for them the journey down the stairs, having done the lap around the top, was filled with pride and achievement.

Earlier, at the year 5 camp with its array of initiative and group problem solving tasks to get the boys working together, it was evident with each rotation that the boys were developing a sense of team. They were thinking more in terms of the group rather than as a collection of individuals. They were also developing respect for suggestions and skills that were available through their group members.  The momentum gathered over the course of the camp as the boys experienced canoeing, bike riding, flying fox, and the challenges of solving the maze. 

It is when the boys feel challenged by something new or daunting that they have the greatest opportunity to develop. Leaving home for 3 days is a challenge to many. Having done it, the boys have gained some inner strength or resilience that can be applied to a variety of new situations. The boys who lingered at the edge of trying something new, but eventually took the plunge, came away feeling something good had happened within them. 

In amongst all the adrenalin, perspiration and problem solving the camp experiences at Year 4 and 5 encouraged friendship, built confidence and generated a lot of laughs and fond memories. It was a privilege to have that time with the boys.

Howard Kelly, Head of Junior School