This term has seen the Year 7 students prepare and participate in the 5-day Journey to the Riverlands. 3 mentor groups were based around Renmark at Chowilla, whilst 2 mentor groups were based just outside of Berri in Katarpako National Park.

All groups arrived at their starting locations just after lunch, and after a thorough packing session, launched into their journey – on the search for Meru (the mythical lost tribal elder)! Boys either paddled a canoe, or bushwalked to their first evening’s campsite and luckily got in, set up and managed their first night of self-catering before the storm hit the Chowilla groups – luckily the boys were tucked up in bed by this stage, but the lightening show was still pretty impressive! It was very fortunate that the weather for the remainder of the week was sunny and mild!! The boys continued by foot or boat for the Tuesday and half of Wednesday before arriving at their changeover location where groups transferred over to the mode of travelling. This provided a nice change of pace to the journey.

All boys coped remarkably well with the journey – some being challenged by the physicality of it, others with the reality of living simply in the outdoors! Cooking was a highlight for many of the boys as was the opportunity to engage with others in a less formal setting.

Some of the feedback provided by the students post experience include:

I enjoyed hiking as I have done lots of it in my life. The canoeing challenged me as I have never done it before. I definitely improved teamwork as the entire camp was based around being a team. I learnt things about all the group members as i was around them more. The experience will defiantly help me at camping in the future.

My most favourite part on camp was the camp fire. Everyone was telling funny stories and we even played 'Mafia'. The elements which challenged me was the physical pain of carrying my bag and carrying our canoes through mud. I think I used grit to carry the canoes and my backpack. I learnt that I was able to cope with the environment significantly. I also learnt that many group members had the capability to camp in the Riverlands. This journey will help me at school (working through a project by showing grit) and it also give me a more positive outlook towards camping.

In the latter part of this term we have also had our whole Year 9 cohort engage in a 2-day First Aid course based at Saints, and a 2-day Lead-In Program based at Finniss to prepare the boys for their Year 9 Journey in August.

The lead-in program was directly linked to the program option boys selected, which meant that the Groups preparing for the Coorong managed to complete a practical sea-kayak session on the Finniss Lagoon and learn how to capsize their boats before venturing further afield, the Warren Gorge program enjoyed learning about the basics of safe belaying for their rock-climbing experience and the Remarkable groups enjoyed some cycling skills to prepare them for the Mawson Trail. 

All groups participated in a program information and pack packing session, a practical cooking and dehydrating session, some menu planning and a great snake awareness session, where boys had the opportunity to get up close and personal with these reptiles, and becoming a little more comfortable with some greater knowledge acquired around snake behavior.

This program not only prepared boys for the up and coming Year 9 experience, but also to consolidate technical skills for the upcoming Year 10 program.

Well Done to all who participated as it was a very smooth and enjoyable experience!  A big thank-you to all the OE staff who work tirelessly to see that the boys get the most out of their experience!  We look forward to seeing you on the Year 9 Program in Term 3.

Emma Lowing
Director of Outdoor Education