I have just recently got back from our 4-day camp with my class of year 7 and 8s. We go on camp every year at my school, but we alternate which camp we go on. In odd years we do an overnight camp at Kaitoke Regional Park, where the students are responsible for planning all of their menus and cooking all of the food – the focus is on responsibility and self-management. We also have a noho marae at school at the end of odd years too. Every other year we go on a 4 day camp to the Wairarapa Outdoor Pursuits Centre – this is our challenge camp.
Our week of camp started on Tuesday, and I have to say the weather did not look promising. Compared to the previous camps which had all had 30+ degree weather, our gale force winds and squalls were a little more dramatic! After almost being washed out/blown away when we were camping up Mt Holdsworth we were evacuated to a local marae. It was lovely to be welcomed on with a Powhiri and our year 8s were able to draw on their experiences at the noho marae at the end of last year to role model for your year 7s. In fact, the evacuation was so successful and our students so fantastic that the school is now considering making this a permanent part of of the camping experience (hopefully minus the wind and rain).
This camp is designed to challenge our students and activities include kayaking and rafting, high ropes course, rock climbing, tramping, caving and the flying fox.
This is the second time I’ve done this camp now. Last time I was a second year teacher and I have to say that now, two years on, as a fourth year teacher it definitely felt so much easier and I felt so much more confident. It’s funny how you don’t really notice how much more confident you are until something like this forces you to see it.
I loved this camp – even with the crazy and wild weather I still loved it. My students were awesome. Not only had they taken everything we’d talked about beforehand on board and come prepared – physically and mentally, they all challenged themselves to overcome their fears.
We had some really deep conversations during circle time on camp about the things that challenge us and how we feel about these, and it was eye opening to me that most of the students had been really anxious about a lot of the activities because they certainly didn’t let it stop them! Every single one of my students gave every activity a go, except for one who didn’t try the high ropes course. Proud teacher moment!
Intermediate is such an interesting time for kids, they’re not quite teenagers, but no longer children. They’re figuring out who they are and they’re starting to push their own boundaries. I think camps play an important role in this self-discovery. It’s an opportunity to sink or swim. To step up to the challenge or fall down.
As a teacher it also gave me a chance to see who my students could be and who they wanted to become. I saw their resilience, and now coming back I have all these shared experiences to draw on when learning gets tough for my students or perseverance wanes.
As a class, my students are more connected, they know each other better and and I know them a lot better too.
So the conclusion? Camp has really helped to take my class culture of our shared agreement on the page to a living, breathing, flexible and dynamic reality. Bring on the rest of the year!