The introductory outdoor education program for students in Year 6 and 7 is where the adventure really begins. These years are about building confidence, resilience and independence with the goal of the program to provide a strong background of basic outdoor skills that boys and girls will further develop when they enter Cadets in Year 8.
What does the Outdoor Education Program look like?
Each year there the school calendar contains five whole Activities Days, one weekend Bivouac and an Annual Camp of five days at the end of Term 4. Every student from Year 6 to 11 is focused on their outdoor education on those set days.
The Activities Days prepare them with all the skills they need for the week long Annual Camp at the end of the year. Skills development begins in Year 6 with an introduction to navigation, knots, camping, hiking and canoeing which is then further developed in Year 7.
Inch by inch, row by row ….
Every student progresses through learning a series of activities that gradually increase in skill complexity and incorporate camp bushcraft, knots/ropes, bush hygiene, radio communication, team-building, bush cooking, First Aid, hiking, navigation, safe fire-lighting and building shelters & snares. It takes years to build these skills, so we start in Year 6 and teach gradually from there.
What is taught first?
Year 6 and 7 enjoy their first Activities Days participating in a number of enjoyable activities that build skills in a familiar environment. These include: harnessing up for Climbing Wall at UNE, learning how to make a stretcher out of common cadet-issued items and sticks from the bush; learning and practicing how to tie a variety of knots using rope and an introduction to basic First Aid; and completing a physically demanding obstacle course.
On Activities Day 2, they head off campus to a local property where they rotate through six training stations:
Fire-lighting – learning how to collect materials for, and build a small fire;
Bush Cooking – learning how to, and cooking damper over hot coals;
High Ropes – climbing a suspended ladder and a tower of crates while harnessed, using the correct calls;
Navigation – learning about bearings and using a compass;
Shelters – how to put up a shelter in which to sleep
Radio – learning the phonetic alphabet and using basic call signs to send messages.
Students then camp out on overnight bivouac, sleeping in shelters they erect themselves and cooking their own meals! It’s all about fun that sets the foundation of character development.