As the Great Aussie Bush Camp continues to be fresh in the minds of our Stage 2 students and teachers I reflected on just how rich the whole experience was for the development of the attitudes, behaviours and skills of our children.
At St Columba Anglican School the preparation for and reflection of camp is seen as equally important to the camp itself, and staff have embraced this as being an excellent opportunity for incorporating elements of Deeper Learning. I’ve written this blog to share some of my experiences and observations of camp with you and explore how the structure and organisation fits our model of Deeper Learning within SCAS.
In the lead up to camp, teachers assisted students to develop their understanding of the essential Character traits of grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience. They learned to understand how these traits would assist them in facing the challenges that they would be presented with at camp. Students set themselves goals then reflected on them in light of their experiences. The process created a shared language and understanding that was reinforced by teachers and peers throughout camp. It was fantastic to hear students preparing for activities and discussing amongst themselves their strategies for success through this preparation.
“I know I’m going to face a dip on this activity, but if I see myself succeeding and listen to the encouragement from others I can do this.”
Students applied Critical Thinking to take on the chariot challenge in pioneering. With only six poles and a handful of ropes, teams had to collaborate, communicate, design and build a chariot that could carry a teammate across a course. I was so impressed at witnessing students who played to their strengths as leaders, those who were able to connect ideas and question others, those who problem solved, communicated and supported others. Then there were those who assessed the work of the team and gave constructive feedback to rework flawed designs.
“I just don’t think this knot is strong enough to hold. Can you show me again how to tie a knot like you did? Yours looks strong and sturdy.”
“If we want to complete this challenge we’ll have to all work together. We’ll need people to place the poles, people to tie the knots and others to check the knots.”
County Fair saw students having to draw on their Creativity to use an entrepreneurial eye to plan, operate and spruik their wares at a fair-style stall. Teams of students collaborated on costing, techniques for sale and managing the logistics of their stall. Chocolate cake, fairy bread, face painting, milkshakes, tests of skill all vie for the County Fair Dollar. Students loved the sense of responsibility and the excitement that filled the room. For many years I’ve seen students continue to sell fairy bread and chocolate cake separate to one another. In 2021, I was amazed at a crafty bunch who combined their ingredients to create a popular new product; a fairy bread forest! To my dismay, the cost of the product for teachers was inflated to 3 times that of the students!
Students were required to use their skills in Collaboration in most camp activities. Each one required a slightly different aspect of these skills. Students had to work independently towards group goals in building a shelter in bushcraft, collaborate as a whole group to ‘raft-up’ in canoeing and be flexible to collaborate with different teams to win the game of World Domination. No activity showed the collaborative efforts for students quite as much as the individual strength students had to contribute to the group to succeed on the Giant Swing. This is where students showed a true sense of spirit in achieving group goals together.
“I’ll help you with your harness quickly so I can get back on the rope to pull up the next group on the swing.”
“Pulling on the rope is so hard, but I have to keep pulling so everyone gets their turn.”
It’s been a beneficial exercise to reflect on the experience for this blog and it’s clear to see the SCAS is providing opportunities for kids to build their “soft skills” through the application of the elements of Deeper Learning. These skills assist students to find success in various fields and overcome obstacles by finding a better path and through working with others. Reflecting on this with your child would be beneficial so you can both discover the links that allowed them to find success and so they can leverage and build on these skills in the future.
Mrs Kellie Hall
Stage 2 Coordinator
St Columba Anglican School