Outdoor Ed

King's Baptist Grammar School's rock-climbing trip to Arapilies,Victoria, Australia.

Check out this video which made by students from their camp in Semester 1 2015.




Outdoor kids get a breath of fresh air

  • by:Steve Price
  • From:Herald Sun
  • June 21, 2012 12:00 am

PARENTS and schools are today turning out a bunch of soft indulged teenagers who live in virtual sheltered workshops.

That's what all the experts tell me and all the research and commentators rattle on about how teenage children these days are softer than we were.

Truth is the current generation are no different to us and despite the worst efforts of some of our schools, life goes on much the same way as it always has.

As an example, last weekend, as Melbourne shivered through one of those dismal grey, wet, wintry weekends, my teenage daughter and a group of classmates were doing their Duke of Edinburgh overnight hike.

The biggest enemy this generation has is the soft-handed Education Department and its reluctance to let students breathe a little

North of Melbourne along a national park track they found their own way to a camp spot and spent a freezing night under canvas. The next day they completed the hike in a day that never stopped raining.

Late Sunday, back at school muddy and cold they complained about not getting much sleep but they all loved the experience and turned their attention to the community service part of the program.

I'm not bragging as an indulgent father, but pointing out that despite all the risks our young people still want to challenge themselves and each other.

The biggest enemy this generation has is the soft-handed Education Department and its reluctance to let students breathe a little.

The Australian reported this week that nationally schools are cutting back on outdoor adventure for children. Cost cutting is one reason given but we all know the real reason is they are risk averse.

Schools simply don't want to be responsible if an accident were to happen or at the worst extreme a death to occur.

Examples given as to why outdoor education is being stripped from the curriculum included a very sad event I was on the fringe of in Sydney a few years ago.

A 16-year-old student - a girl - from a local public school died during a wild storm in the Southern Highlands when a large tree crashed on to the tent in which she was sleeping.

In Melbourne two years ago a boy, 12, lost his life when he drowned on an excursion and of course we had a death from anaphylactic reaction of a 13-year-old in 2007 at a cadet camp.

These sad tragic accidents have turned schools risk averse to the loss of our young ones.

Danger shouldn't be eliminated from their experience of growing up and schools really need to understand that education can't just be about books and learning at a desk.

Like the reluctance in the state system to embrace sport because it's too hard and time consuming for teachers, outdoor adventure must be maintained.

Fifty or so years ago Sam Newman had the opportunity to spend year 9 at Timbertop, the Geelong Grammar camp near Mt Buller.

He still calls it the greatest year of his life and the most character building experience he has ever had.

Some might question the sort of character that came from it but it shows what taking people from their comfort zones can achieve.

The great bulk of the population can't afford the five figure sum required to spend a year in Sam's old bunk but it doesn't cost much to take a road trip with your kids along the coast with a tent and a sleeping bag.

This activity, according to a study done over five years, showed outdoor education improved students' personal and social development.

But you don't need studies to prove that getting city-bound youngsters out together as a class group in the mountains or the bush would be a good thing.

Team work and a common purpose do incredible things for youngsters' self esteem.

The State Government should be insisting that every school under its control has some annual camp for at least one, if not a handful of, year levels.

Imagine if this had an impact on the growing problem of cyber bullying via Facebook and turned another generation of Australians into outdoor lovers who want to go hiking with their mates at weekends instead of sitting in their bedrooms playing on their smartphones.

That shivering bunch of year 9 girls that arrived home last weekend are now looking at volunteer work at a local nursing home.

Let's just hope some of the residents can tell them the stories of their days out in the bush.

Parents should make sure they let their school know this is a program they want expanded - not dropped because it's too expensive or risky.

Steve Price is a regular on Ten's The Project


King's Baptist Grammar School | 3 Keithcot Farm Drive, Wynn Vale SA 5127 | P.O. Box 64 Modbury North SA 5092 | Ph. (08) 8289 0222 | ABN 85 693 637 001