This week our Year 8 students went on camp for five days and it caused me to reflect on the benefits of school camps and why we include so many in our curriculum from Year 3 right through to Year 11.
School camps are good for our students and not just for the few days they are enjoying them; the benefits can last a lifetime. I’ve thought of seven lasting benefits of school camps but maybe you can think of more?
1. School camps help students build a unique interest. It’s not until a child tries something like archery, kayaking, horse riding or a particular type of craft that they realise they love it or have a special knack for it. Not many families can offer these opportunities so camps are the ideal occasions to find a new skill or interest. It could even develop into a career opportunity.
2. School camps help students build social skills and teamwork. Camp activities are built around working and playing in teams. Students join with others they wouldn’t normally mix with and make new friends in unexpected ways and places. In the workplace, a huge emphasis is placed upon the ability to work in a team so skills learned on camp will benefit students well into the future. The job market calls these abilities ‘soft skills’ and they are in growing demand by employers.
3. School camps help develop independence. All families have different expectations and rules for their children. Some can cook a three-course gourmet dinner and others may not know how to sweep the floor. On camp, everyone has to chip in. Whether it’s cleaning up the cabin together, putting up tents or preparing food, students build resilience by learning new skills and being responsible for their own jobs. This sort of independence helps students grow into mature, responsible adults who can face the future with confidence.
4. School camps encourage a healthy lifestyle. Most camps are based around outdoor activities where students learn to push themselves outside their comfort zone. Camps build physical strength and show children how much fun can be enjoyed outdoors now and into their future.
5. School camps increase environmental awareness. Outdoor activities are the perfect opportunity for students to increase their awareness of God’s great creation and learn more about its beauty and fragility. We are truly blessed in Australia with stunning wildlife and a fascinating diversity of bush and beach settings. Learning an appreciation for creation at a young age is something students can enjoy throughout their entire lives.
6. School camps help students build resilience. When young children first go off to camp they (and their parents) often have a mountain of worries. “What if I can’t sleep?” “What if I don’t like the food?” “What if I miss my parents?” These are natural concerns for first-time campers and are talked about in class before the trip. Once the students attend their first camp they learn that they can cope with not having their favourite food for dinner and they eventually do fall asleep in a different bed. They also find out that they are having too much fun to even think about mum or dad let alone miss them. They have conquered their fears and are all the stronger for tackling them.
7. School camps help students unplug from technology. They break the cycle of dependence some students have on TV, mobile phones and internet access. Camps provide opportunities for students to engage with real challenges and real activities in the real world.
I would be interested in learning how your children have benefited from school camps over the years and what skills you think they will take with them into their future. Maybe the upcoming school holidays is a good time to chat with them, find out what they enjoyed and plan similar activities the whole family can join in.
Mike Curtis, Principal