Early on Monday 22nd March our most intrepid Y11 students arrived at school, looking “drippy” and game for an adventure. Covid-19 necessitated a Y11 camp like no other and, truth be told, none of us knew exactly what we were in for. Our goal was a ‘road trip’ to some lesser-travelled parts of Victoria (two nights in the Grampians and two in Swan Hill) at a pace that would push even these seasoned campers to the edge of their comfort zones.
Monday kicked things off in the right (frenetic) fashion; barely thirty minutes passed between the coaches pulling into the Grampians Retreat and the students setting off on a 4.5hr hike up the local peak, Mt Abrupt. Split into teams, the students pushed each other on whilst working on their secret handshakes, jokes and high-fives for the evening’s campfire.
Tuesday was an ‘outdoorsy’ day with a Flying Fox and Giant Swing featuring heavily. However, for many the highlight was participating in a bush painting session with some insight from a local indigenous elder. Either side of dinner we also squeezed in some pooltime, some very silly team-building games (Stephanie has a new party trick the rest of us will never forget) and a spot of karaoke.
On Wednesday morning we had a bit more time to get competitive (balancing on logs, jumping over logs, that kind of thing) before we set off for Swan Hill. After one too many renditions of Wonderwall we pulled into our accommodation and the students were thrilled to see a patch of grass big enough to call a mark. Post-footy, it was off to the local ‘Laser Show’ on the river which, it’s fair to say, blew our expectations out of the water.
Thursday began for many with a 7am exercise routine, took in a local art gallery, lunch on a paddle-steamer and a trip to a salt lake, finishing with our second campfire, this time enhanced with marshmallows. For most staff it was this campfire that was the highlight of the whole trip as students took turns to reflect on their biggest challenges they had faced and the personal character strengths they had used to overcome them. It really was a beautiful moment and it was immediately obvious to everyone what a special group of young adults they are.
As the coaches sped towards Melbourne on Friday - via a Bendigo mine - those of us who were awake couldn’t believe we had only been away for four days. The list of activities and destinations was impressive enough, but it was really the depth of the newly-forged friendships and the strong sense of group identity that stuck out as special. I can’t overstate the excitement of the Senior School team as we look ahead to another 18 months working with this remarkable cohort.