Learning about the outdoors… and ourselves
2020 helped us recognise that being outdoors and connecting to each other is incredibly important for our wellbeing. That stop-start year saw the Outdoor Education department continually review, adjust and modify programs, in hopes of having an opportunity to ‘just run something’. Well, we did. Eventually. It might have been miniscule in comparison to our 325 days of programming for Years 3 to 10, but we managed to find 15 days for all our Year 7 students to find some time to connect to nature and each other at Chum Creek. It was magic.
This year, we have adjusted our programs and staffing to ensure all three Outdoor Education sites are up and running under the new ‘COVID normal’, and our partnerships between the main campuses and Outdoor Education continue to forge ahead.
For example, the Year 6 students from St Kilda Road Campus used their five-day Mallana experience to understand that learning is an active process. Activities such as lighting a fire and learning how to cook on it were part of their learning journeys. As Milli Welberry from Year 6C reflects, she learnt these important aspects about herself at Mallana:
It’s easier to learn with an open mindset.
I work better in a team than by myself.
When I don’t give up, I always meet my goal.
I am happier with my friends.
Bouncing back when something doesn’t go your way.
Using tips from last time and doing it again.
Listening to others before going off on your own.
Other partnerships are emerging. Our Year 5 Outdoor Education program now visits the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, in Yellingbo. Here students learn about the not-for-profit organisation and their community projects in helping to protect Victoria’s bird emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater. Students experience first-hand how conservation and nature stewardship can successfully change the plight of a critically endangered species.
Successful partnerships continue to evolve. Both the Year 7 Chum Creek program and the Year 8 Lochend program continue to work with LandCare as a practical means to ‘give back’ to a community and environment. Understanding the important connection between enjoying these natural places and contributing to the preservation of them gives students an appreciation and sense of responsibility.
The aim of Wesley’s Outdoor Education program is to offer students rewarding experiences in three unique environments, to become familiar with and appreciate these places, and learn how to care for them. Ultimately, it offers them a powerful sense of connection: connection to the country, connection to each other, and connection to themselves.