As many events start to re-emerge on our calendars in 2021, our New Horizons Programme has been met with great positivity. One silver lining from our 2020 learnings is the affirmation that camps add greatly to the richness of school life and the development of life skills. It has also been heartening to hear so much excitement in our students' voices when they excitedly say, ‘We get to go on camps again this year!’
At Ruyton we are committed to providing engaging experiences in the outdoors through the New Horizons Programme, allowing students to grow and take on challenges. We see great benefit in the students sharing these experiences, enjoying their time in the bush and exploring new horizons. The driving force behind this programme is the significant personal growth we see develop in students as they participate, and the real and practical strategies they use as they navigate the complexity of independence and take on higher levels of responsibility and decision making in the outdoor programme.
In 2020 we took the time to review the Outdoor Education sequence of outdoor learning experiences. The revised programme for 2021 has each of the core year camps based in Victoria, with plans to also run additional optional camps at some year levels. Already in 2021, our Year 7 students have commenced their Senior School journey at Lord Somers Camp, Year 6 developed their outdoor skills at Gembrook, and Year 9 engaged in the challenge and adventure of the Year 9 Journey camp. To start Term 2, Year 10 students were able to ‘choose their own adventure,’ taking up options in every corner of the state, including surfing on the West Coast, rock climbing in the Grampians, bike touring at Bright or a canoe journey on the Murray River.
US studies have shown that students who participate in outdoor education programmes develop increased confidence to tackle new and challenging experiences. Evidence suggests that these skills are brought back to the classroom, with students demonstrating a higher level of confidence which results in a positive impact on academic performance.
In Brian Wattchow’s literature A Pedagogy of Place, the impact of a sequenced Outdoor Education programme in allowing students to develop a greater level of understanding and a relationship with the natural world that can be incorporated into their values is recognised. Wattchow suggests that participation in outdoor experiences provides a starting point to deal with many of the large global ecological issues we face, promoting a more sustainable approach for those who participate.
Our students are certainly fortunate to have so many rich opportunities woven into their learning journey at Ruyton: camps, experiential learning embedded in curriculum, music, sustainability, drama, sports, immersion days and service. In every facet of school life and beyond, we see our students engage, take on new challenges, and live the School values of character, citizenship, endeavour and integrity. The New Horizons Programme ensures that the learning journey for each girl is unique, as she finds her own grit and purpose.
Director of Outdoor Education
Ruyton Girls' School