The Importance of Outdoor Education and Curriculum Camps

In all my years in schools, outdoor education has on occasion been questioned by some parents as to its value, specifically with concerns expressed about missing academic learning time. I’ve reflected on this view over many years; however, I retain the view that outdoor education broadly, including year-level camps and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, offer valuable learning characteristics that cannot be taught as effectively, and some not at all, whilst children are enclosed in an indoor formal classroom. We are fortunate to live and/or be educated in this stunning location with some of the best outdoor learning opportunities available anywhere.

2021 Year 7 Curriculum Camp Photo Gallery

2021 Year 8 Curriculum Camp Photo Gallery

I am grateful to all parents who supported the Year 7 and 8 camps this year for your children, because I can see the high value for our students in ways that can often be more tacit and harder to identify on the surface, but are certainly present. More so, these intrinsic benefits are carried forward by students as they build their self-esteem, realise it is okay to be apprehensive, and to show courage to overcome respective fears, have a go, and accomplish something they may not have attempted without the support and encouragement of others. There is a tangible benefit in getting outside our comfort zone for a period, and achieving what we didn’t think was possible. Of course, there is a benefit in also appreciating the simple things that we all have access to and take for granted, and noticing these when something is removed, such as access to a shower, comfortable bed, fridge full of food or flushing toilet. Ideally, students would have returned home expressing their deep gratitude for all you do and provide for them! Perhaps, my optimism is yet to be realised … maybe one day!

Finally, there is also a benefit that flows on to academic learning. Students return from camp knowing each other better and are more collegial and more willing to work together and share knowledge. Some are more inclined to take calculated risks in their academic learning. Others who lack self-confidence can return just that little bit more confident in themselves. Some make mistakes and poor decisions and quickly find out that is not the right path forward, and come to see greater wisdom and settle better in school as a result. Others see their teachers in a different light (i.e. ‘as people’) and this improves that relationship in the classroom setting. And so on.

In other words, camps and outdoor learning complement the indoor academic environment as part of the holistic development of each child, adolescent and teenager. I am indeed most grateful to our teachers who cared for and guided our students, spending four days away from their own families, many with their own children at home, and returned to much fuller email inboxes to attend to over the weekend! Our thanks to Action Learning Initiatives (ALI) who are our local camp provider and always facilitate the camps very professionally.