Students at each year level have the opportunity to participate in a camp as part of the optional curriculum.
Our Year 9 students rotate through a series of Enrichment subjects which are designed to teach students key skills and values in addition to their core subjects.
One such subject is Adventure Skills through which participants prepare for a three-day journey in the Abel Tasman National Park.
The course begins with students undertaking adventure-based learning games where they get to know each other and focus on identifying the skills they currently have when it comes to undertaking a camp.
The benefit of this class is that students spend eight weeks together planning their trip and undertake activities such as navigation and planning the menu (in which they have to make allowances for members of the group who may eat differently from them, whilst still ensuring that food items will fit in their pack).
Other key lessons include clothing and equipment, navigation and developing checklists to ensure that camps run smoothly.
The learning outcomes for the senior Outdoor Education courses include benefitting from healthy and active living through a variety of outdoor and sport activities (including kayaking, rock and rope skills, tramping and bushcraft, team building, navigation, caving, environmental and cultural studies).
These courses include 3-4 camps per year.
Gareth Wheeler, Head of Outdoor Education at Motueka, recommends the GO PREPARED system of trip planning, i.e. consider Goals, Objectives, Participants, Resources, Equipment and Clothing, Plan, Access, Rationing, Emergency Plan.
Readings that are used in preparation for these camps include Expedition Behaviour, Logistics! and What if the Teacher could Choose their Students.
Wheeler states that there are 1001 great activities and ideas for camps and that the Project Adventure books, for example Quicksilver and Islands of Healing, are a great place to start.
Activities in these books are designed to improve trust and confidence.
Some of the bonding and getting to know you games recommended by Outdoor Education staff include:
- Dead ant - where Raid Cans (It) tag as many ants as possible. If tagged, a person assumes a 'dead ant' position on the floor. To rescue a dead ant, four live ants must pick up the dead ant by his/her arms and legs (1 ant per appendage) and carry them to an open hoop. Once the dead ant is placed into a hoop, they are immediately brought back to life.
- Chain tag - select two pairs to be the initial taggers. Both pairs links arms and become a chain of two. All other players spread out inside the playing area. If a chain tags a player, the player joins and makes a chain of three. If a chain of three tags another player, they split up and become two chains of two. The game continues until all players are part of a chain or a time limit is reached.
- Diminishing tarp - this activity requires working together in close physical proximity in order to solve a practical, physical problem. It tends to emphasize group communication, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy, as well as issues related to physical self and physical proximity. The activity can be run in many different ways but the basic method is to ask the whole group to try to fit inside a small area which can be marked by: small platforms, or a circle of rope, or tarpaulin.
- Circle sit/walk - a lap circle is formed by a number of people (the more the better) standing in a circle, shoulder to shoulder, all facing towards the center. The next step is for everyone to take a quarter turn to the left (or right) and then on a given command everyone sits on the lap of the person behind them. The end result is everyone is supporting someone and everyone is being supported by another.
In all of the senior camps, a shared meal/themed banquet/pot luck seems to bring everyone together as well as the obligatory marshmallows, riddles and ghost stories around the fire!