The benefits of School Camp
Ascham’s Deputy Head of Junior School, Ms Peta Howley, explains why camps in Years 3 to 6 are great for our girls in so many ways.
A highlight of Term 1 is that all girls attend a camp, venturing beyond the School gates to pursue an exciting new adventure as a grade. Upon their return, the girls regale family members with captivating tales of flying high above the treetops on giant swings, traipsing through muddy courses, scaling great heights and successfully working together to achieve group challenges. Details about the fun had sharing a cabin and enjoying meals together also feature regularly in the girls’ positive recounts of their camp experience each year. There is no doubt that camps are a source of great enjoyment and lifelong memories. There are, however, many other important benefits of camps that make them such an invaluable part of the learning program. With each camp specifically scheduled and designed with the unique needs of the Year group in mind, camps provide great opportunities for learning, personal growth and relationship building.
Each year the girls relish the opportunity to take their learning outdoors, engaging in a great deal of experiential learning on camp. Immersed in picturesque natural environments, this learning not only enhances the girls’ understanding of the world around them but also about themselves and others. In a safe and supportive environment, the girls participate in a range of activities that encourage them to face appropriate challenges, both physical and emotional. Through these experiences much learning about perseverance, resilience, risk taking, goal setting and courage takes place. Being away from home, experiences at camp also foster a growing sense of identity, confidence and self-efficacy as the girls demonstrate their increased independence and self-management.
Camps are powerful in promoting the development of positive relationships. Over the course of a camp, established friendships are strengthened and new friendships form. Careful cabin and activity groupings provide opportunities for girls who may not have had the chance to get to know each other at School to forge new friendships. Relationships between students and teachers are also enhanced at camp as each gets to know more about the other outside of the classroom.
Travelling, living and working together, the girls develop a heightened appreciation of the importance of working collaboratively. Cooperation, respect and team-based decision making are paramount when sharing a cabin with others. Working alongside trained facilitators, the teachers support the girls to complete a range of structured team-based tasks. The process of supporting one another to achieve both individual and shared goals, and importantly debriefing after each activity, helps the girls to reflect upon why groups succeed or fail. This process instills important life lessons and a solid foundation for the year of learning ahead.
When the Year 6 girls create their autobiographies each year, vivid memories from the various camps are fondly recalled. Given the immense benefits of camp, it is unsurprising that they are a highlight of the School calendar for teachers and students alike.