Bringing south-east NSW communities together
An outdoor education initiative aimed at building stronger communities by inspiring future generations has seen over 100 Year 9 and 10 students from schools across south-east NSW join together to complete a seven-day personal development camp in the wilderness of the Namadgi National Park.
The course was part of not-for-profit organisation Outward Bound’s combined schools Regional Community Partnership program, a strategic initiative sponsored by Boral that is designed to foster growth in communities of regional Australia by providing challenging, experiential learning opportunities for financially, socially or geographically disadvantaged students.
Students from Bega High School, Sapphire Coast Anglican College, Ulladulla High School, Braidwood Central School, Lumen Christi Catholic College Pambula, Narooma High School and St John the Evangelist Catholic High School Nowra were offered scholarships through Boral to attend the course, aimed to help them develop leadership skills and stretch their comfort zones through physical challenges such as abseiling, rock climbing, hiking and navigating.
James MacKinnon from Sapphire Coast Anglican College Year 9 said the week proved that if he put his mind to it, he could achieve anything.
“I found the hiking challenging, but Outward Bound has given me an experience in coping with difficult situations and pushing past them,” said James.
Lia Freedman from Bega High School Year 9 agreed that she learnt she could accomplish just about anything by putting in extra effort and showing initiative.
“I was challenged with nearly everything I did – the huge treks up the mountains, the ropes course, the abseiling and even the social side of meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone,” said Lia.
“But I loved absolutely everything and Outward Bound has taught me skills that I will use throughout my life.”
Carlee Russel, Year 10 student at Bega High School, said believing in and trusting herself helped her reach her goals during the course.
“I learnt that it is so much easier to do things when you don’t doubt yourself,” said Carlee.
“I also learnt that you should pack lightly, take a hairbrush and make sure you drink bottle doesn’t leak!
“It is a really hard week and it’s challenging, but you learn so much and overall it’s a really fun, amazing experience.”
After the week-long adventure, parents and teachers keenly assembled at Outward Bound’s National Base in ACT to welcome their somewhat dirty but smiling students home and were impressed with the outcomes.
Karen Bulbart, Head Teacher of Student Wellbeing and Outward Bound Coordinator at Ulladulla High School said Year Nine is ideal to throw the challenge out to teenagers to prove mostly to themselves that they are capable of dealing with all obstacles placed in their path.
“To have students 'volunteer' for a tough experience was awesome in itself at the outset,” said Ms Bulbert.
“They knew they were in for freezing temperatures overnight but fun-filled hard yakka days - physically, emotionally and mentally.
“The development in their self-confidence, resilience and growth in determination to achieve is spine tingling.
Being thoughtful toward and inclusive of others is another positive attribute gained. From involvement over a number of years, I can say this latter aspect has become an integral part of previous participants. They confidently and calmly step up as a leader and work alongside others who are struggling, offering encouragement to achieve and complete a task.”
Likewise, Head of Senior School at Sapphire Coast Anglican College Greg Thornton agreed that the students have been impacted in a positive way.
“The students who returned from the Outward Bound adventure were excited to share their experiences with other students at school,” said Mr Thornton.
“They spoke of the physical challenges they endured, working together with others they didn’t know and making lots of new friendships.
“It was a huge natural adrenaline rush, which has put a jump in their step and a skip in their walk.
“Thank you to Outward Bound for motivating and inspiring the youth of today and leaders for tomorrow.”
Outward Bound CEO Benjamin Farinazzo said the program allows not only the youth of the area but the whole community to benefit by instilling a sense of service and responsibility in the participants.
“Students complete physical and mental challenges, such as leading teams on expeditions, facing fears of heights on abseil descents and a three-hour solo period that tests their mental strength and communication skills,” Mr Farinazzo said.
“The program complements each of the schools’ strong philosophical base of holistic education aimed at providing a positive learning environment: positive discipline, healthy recreation, personal improvement, individual success and functioning supportive community.”
For more information on Outward Bound’s Regional Community Partnership programs in NSW, ACT or VIC visit www.outwardbound.org.au or contact Sas Stahl, free call 1800 267 999.
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