Spending last week in the Flinders Ranges with the Year 9 students has really helped me appreciate the importance of this unique experience in our education program. The camp builds on the work done in Rite Journey classes and is designed to push students out of their comfort zones, to encourage a sense of team and to provide an opportunity for our young stars to step away from normal weekly routines and reflect on some of the things that really matter!
Tough….it was really tough! My boys group carried backpacks with tents, food, cooking items, sleeping bags and water, plenty of water across the Wilpena Pound. The group covered about 15km each day and climbed 1000m on the first day to really enjoy the views from the Tanderra Saddle and then again traversed across dense bush to climb yet again to Bridal Gap. At some stages we passed backpacks to each other in order to scale large boulders, we supported those with blisters and sore bodies. The boys took charge of proceedings each day with students nominating different team leaders and navigators ensuring the group arrived at their camp destinations with plenty of daylight left to pitch tents and prepare a much-needed nightly meal.
Another day was spent abseiling down a 60m drop just north of the Rawnsley Bluff followed by a survival challenge where the task was to ensure ‘an injured pilot’ was sheltered, fed, warm and hydrated. The final night on camp was spent in isolation. The Solo has become a feature of the Rite Journey camp, a 14 hour period of time (overnight) spent on their own. Creating stillness and silence in otherwise busy, hectic lives is not an easy exercise – the opportunity to ‘plant’ each student in the middle of the Flinders allows for some personal reflection and deeper considerations of life going forward.
The kids get home tired, in some cases emotionally drained, maybe even hungry and certainly in need of a long warm shower! They also bring them some invaluable take-home ideas and I propose five key ones:
- Each student has become that little more resilient. They have met the challenges and worked through the discomforts and this has to translate to a sense of achievement and something they can tap into when times get a bit tough next time.
- The students rose to the occasion with their sense of teamwork and cooperation. They will have really cemented the idea that to support others is so much more rewarding than bringing others down and how good it felt to be part of a true team. Many of the students got to know each other that little more and appreciated each others’ strengths.
- The importance of taking time out and to slow things down would not have gone unappreciated. A young person needs to create opportunities to sort out their thinking and reflect.
- Overcoming fear is one of the hardest lessons learnt. Perched on top of a 60m drop, having faith in the rigging and the instructor’s advice, to lean back over this drop takes courage.
- Immersing oneself in the natural world is exhilarating. The Flinders National Park is a beautiful area and appreciating the natural wonder of this incredible area of our state will be entrenched in each students’ memory for a long time.
These Year 9 students are only a minute away from beginning their Senior School journeys and the Flinders experience gears them all so well for a successful tilt at the next three years. I applaud the Rite Journey team, Paul Travis and the Wilderness Staff for executing a brilliant expedition.
Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School