Not so at Dilworth School, where students (ad)ventured to the Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) in Tongariro over the last school holidays for what was, by all accounts, a fulfilling and fun experience.

For four nights, students from Dilworth camped in sub-zero conditions and participated in a range of outdoor activities, including high and low ropes courses, skiing and snowboarding, navigation, hiking in the snow, using ice axes and abseiling.

Rob Tee, head of physical education and health, senior campus at Dilworth School, says the purpose of the trip was to offer the students outdoor experiences in mountainous environments – and the trip certainly delivered!

“Our students are very lucky with the many outdoor experiences they have while at our rural campus during Year 9 in the bush or around the coast.

“Taking boys to OPC allowed them to build on these prior experiences, and have a chance to develop more in a new and novel environment,” he explains.

“The night in the snow was an amazing experience for the boys, many of whom hadn’t touched snow before the trip.

“We were lucky to have fantastic weather, so the sunset and sunrise were unreal [and] the chance to learn to ski and snowboard also rated very highly with the boys.”

The Dilworth Trust Board covered the costs of the trip for the students, and the school supplied the necessary clothing for the boys, which removed some of the barriers.

In fact, Tee says the biggest challenge was “getting the boys committed to attending during the first week of their school holidays”.

Students were required to self-nominate for the camp by providing their reasons for wanting to attend.

Tee then had the job of narrowing down the list to just 17 lucky Year 12 and 13 boys.

He says the trip gave them the chance to develop their knowledge and skills in the snow, as well as group problem-solving skills.

“We can go over it a lot in a classroom, but the outcomes of poor decisions become a lot more real in the outdoors, especially when the temperature is well below freezing,” Tee says.

In addition, some of the students are interested in pursuing a career in the defence forces, so the trip allowed them to build on their previous bush experiences to add to their future skillset.

Others have now discovered a passion for snow sports and are planning on pursuing this beyond school.

“I was a little concerned some of our boys would not do so well with the cold, however once we got back to the city, they wanted to be back up the mountain!” Tee says.

“All the boys were very grateful for the opportunity to attend and many want to come again next year.”

Groups of students from the school have made the pilgrimage to OPC annually until there was a break last year, but Tee is hoping to make this an annual tradition once again.