Returning from Camp Week

As I write this week’s Messenger article, I have been madly checking my gear, my pack, my boots, and all of the paperwork before I head off on the Overland Track in Tasmania for Senior Campus Homestead Camp. I have an early departure from the airport and am looking forward to meeting my 10 fellow trekkers from Year 11 and 12.

We have been talking about and preparing for the trip for many weeks, sharing stories of blisters, dehydrated meals, and enough gear to survive the biggest snowstorm Tassie can throw at us in Autumn.

I am aware that at this moment the students accompanying me will be doing the same, checking gear, wondering if they have everything? Will I have enough food? Will I be warm enough? They will also be filled with excitement as the departure day has finally arrived.

All of our Senior Campus students and staff will have similar feelings over the next few days as they also put in place final arrangements for their trips, wherever they may be going. For many, this will be their first trip away with Woodleigh, and for some their first trip away camping and looking after themselves.

It is through these experiences that staff can build relationships with our students and see them through a different lens to that we see at school. We can see strengths that we may not have known existed, vulnerabilities that help us to see the real person, and most importantly, we can share with them the story of Woodleigh; our culture, and our values.

This week I have had three separate discussions with people about Woodleigh students and the sense of character people see in our graduates and alumni. Two of these discussions were with alumni, and another with a prominent member of our local community who described her experience developing relationships with ex-Woodleigh students. They all talked about a sense of independence, confidence, being grounded and having strong values, being people of character.

These characteristics are the hallmarks of the experiences Woodleigh students have during their time at our school and they are also strongly aligned with a community that has a strong sense of self.

I can’t wait to head off on my trek early tomorrow morning, to meet my fellow travellers and begin our adventure together. I am looking forward to learning about who they really are, their views about our world, their aspirations for the future, and hopefully their optimism as well. We will share challenges along the way, and I know they will see all of my vulnerabilities, especially after the first big hill we climb.

Sending our entire Senior Campus off on camp or work experience at the same time requires a huge effort from our staff and everyone involved in the preparation and planning for these trips. People at Woodleigh give of their time because they value the experiences we will all have together next week, and they understand the importance of these experiences to the personal development of our students, their sense of connectedness and belonging to each other, and to the School.

My best wishes to all our travellers returning home this week. I hope your journeys were full of joy and wonder.

Take care,