Hattah Reflection 2023: Desert, Dust, Discovery

Hattah, desert, dust, discovery. Everyone who goes, has gone or knows Woodleigh, knows that this is the camp of a lifetime. Where you make new friends, learn new skills, and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

As Woodleigh students, we are prepared for this experience via most other camps and outdoor activities. Previous year 10s always roamed around talking about camp and telling the younger year levels how difficult it is, but after being on Hattah I can vouch for the fact that it is not just a week of pain but in fact a week of fun, and accomplishments that everybody can complete. We are so thankful for the camp opportunity presented to us by the Woodleigh crew, especially Mr Peach and Ms Brewin.

I had heard many stories from the previous years and to be honest, I didn’t believe the hype. It turns out I was wrong; I would do anything to be back at Hattah right now. My expectations of Hattah at 4 AM started low. I had a heavy bag, dried meatballs, and no idea where I would rest my head on my non-existent pillow. Within 24-hours I realised it didn’t matter; no matter the walk, the camp or the meal, I was having the very best of times. Each night we went to sleep looking at the amazing stars and started the day with an extraordinary sunrise. The hiking days were long but that gave me time to really get to know my walking group and make new friends. The hikes pushed me out of my comfort zone, forced me to step up, learn to navigate and explore a different side of Australia. I was lucky enough to have my birthday on Hattah; I say lucky, as it was one of most memorable celebrations. After a long, tiring day of walking, I was surprised by my campmates with a birthday song and some sparklers. This with some dehydrated s’mores made it the perfect birthday celebration.

Throughout my time at Woodleigh, Hattah has always been spoken about as a rite of passage. A challenge that almost every student in the school has or will experience, and something that we have been preparing for since year 7. As Hattah drew closer, the stress levels began rising, however the teachers assured us that this was not the right mindset. They told us that although Hattah will take a toll on us, it will also give us memories we will never forget and friends we never thought we would make. The thorough first-aid training and Hattah activity sessions prepared us for the worst, but luckily for us, the worst never came. The dreading Hattah for months quickly came to an end when I couldn’t sleep the night before out of excitement. Sure, the bus ride up was long and treacherous, but once the drive was over and we got our packs on we were all quickly sent into the Hattah spirit. Making jokes and cheering each other up was a key strong point in what made Hattah so memorable and enjoyable. After 3 years of being told Hattah would be a difficult trip where you will get blisters and bruises, it felt like a breeze because all we thought about was friends and dinner, putting the walk aside until we were en route. Overall, I actually don’t remember the painful parts of Hattah because for me there were no painful parts, but that varies for all people. Hattah was an unforgettable, Woodleigh exclusive, must-do aspect of everyone’s Woodleigh calling.

In theory, Hattah is about teaching year 10 students how to camp in the bush, use a compass or light a Trangia. Yet through the teachers, OEG staff, and our peers, we learned much more; the most important lesson being how to challenge ourselves. It taught us about becoming independent, packing our own meals, cooking, and navigating. It is about being put in an environment that makes you uncomfortable with some people you don’t know and create connections. It is in this new and uncomfortable environment that learning and growth take place. As students at Woodleigh, we are taught that these challenges led to success and the growth in our independence which we needed to succeed in life.

Hattah may have been challenging, but we take away not just life-changing skills but incredible memories that we shall cherish forever.

Year 10