Muddy Challenges for Middle School Students on Outdoor Education Camps

They’ve got sand in their hair, mud between their toes and they’re buzzing yet exhausted! This is how outdoor education looks as students venture beyond the classroom to learn about themselves, others and the environment - and the staff team at Matthew Flinders Anglican College wouldn’t want it any other way! 

Term 1 at Flinders is when Middle School students in Year 7 and Year 8 embark on their annual outdoor adventure camps, enabling them to launch into the school year with new friendships, a stronger bond as a cohort and memories for life. 

The Outdoor Education Camp program is a valuable part of the College’s Secondary School wellbeing program, WELL4Life, which aims to support students in building wellness knowledge, relationships and skills. 

Research resoundingly shows that nature play and learning experiences are positive for our development, and can result in enhanced personal capability, self-esteem, self-efficacy, physical and mental health - all character traits and health markers Flinders strives to help its students understand and achieve. 

In the second week of the school year, the Year 7s embark on a three-day outdoor education camp at Mudjimba on the Sunshine Coast to participate in team building games, rock climbing, canoeing, high ropes and a supremely mucky mud pit challenge.

While at the same time, the Year 8 students travel to Northern NSW, also for a three-day camp experience, and have a go at the range of activities, from giant SUP to surfing, bodyboarding, team initiative games, the ropes, an amazing race activity, night activities and evening beach walks.

Head of Middle School, Mr Sam Huckstep says, “In Years 7 and 8 at Flinders, our students are transitioning to the Secondary School and we want to support them in adjusting to their new roles, identities and expectations.

“Our Outdoor Education Camp program provides our students with authentic learning opportunities that can be uncomfortable, challenging, rewarding and fun – often all at the same time!   

“Camp is an opportunity to get to know their teachers and Homeroom mentors in a relaxed setting, as well as form friendships and bond as a Year 7 cohort and in their House groups, while learning how to step out of their individual comfort zones.

“It’s also a chance to put into practice our College values of compassion, courage, integrity and respect. Throughout the camp experience, students are encouraged to think of others and build skills and awareness so that they can become kinder, more inclusive and caring people.” 

The Head of Student Engagement (Years 7-9) in the Secondary School, Mr Josh Long, said the Term 1 camps provide a relaxed yet nurturing environment for students and staff to get to know each other before launching into a rewarding year of teaching and learning. 

Mr Long said, "It was great to see our students exemplifying the College values throughout their camp adventures and actively embracing their year-level themes, which for the Year 7s is ‘Start Well’ to help them settle into the Secondary School confidently.

“Our year 8s focus on the theme ‘Think Well’ to nurture the knowledge, skills and attitudes conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing. 

“All students demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination as they ventured beyond their comfort zones and supported one another at every turn."

Year 8 Camp Reflections

Year 8 student Tim Probert said, “My favourite activity was the giant SUP because it was an excellent teamwork challenge, which got me to know my homeroom a lot more than I did before. It was also a struggle not to fall off! I’ll remember the camp venue and how much fun it was to do the activities with my homeroom and learn new things about my group.”   

Year 7 Camp Reflections

Elize Caton in Year 7 said she wished the “amazing camp experience” went for longer.

“I loved the mud pit because you just had to go in there, get dirty and get your team across the line. Helping and teamwork was a must-have. Through the mud pit there were many challenges, such as the silent army crawl right before climbing along a very hard wall, and if you fell you had to start again! You had to help each other through tough challenges, and you couldn’t start the next one until the last person was there.

“So, one of my biggest takeaways from camp was that in any situation, it is great to have amazing peers surrounding you, encouraging you and making you take that one more step. I also learnt that teamwork is the key to success; without it challenges are a lot harder.” 

Brock Milburn in Year 7 said, “Camp definitely helped me to get to know new people, especially in my class. Because, with all the team building activities it was hard not to talk to people! The camp food was amazing; we did not leave hungry!”

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