Year 9 Camp: A Powerful Learning Program

This week was my sixth time on Year 9 Camp. As much as I love the outdoors and spending some time in beautiful Karridale, these aren’t the reasons I keep putting my hand up for camp. In terms of opportunities to really challenge our students, pushing them to grow and develop into more independent, capable and resilient young women, Year 9 Camp tops the list for me. I believe the value of programs like these simply cannot be underestimated.

This program revolves around community living where the girls are responsible for their groups throughout the camp. Explorus runs the program, while Santa Maria staff are included in the student groups as active members of the small communities. The basics of campcraft are reinforced with girls living in tents and cooking on stoves and barbecues for the four days. The adventure activities are used equally to teach the girls new skills and reinforce their own self-concept within a group.

Camp is a challenging experience for our students, but it is indeed supposed to be. Some find the hiking and expedition elements particularly challenging. Others find working through some of the activities at heights very difficult. Some girls simply find being away from home one of the most challenging elements of camp.

At 14 – 15 years of age, being able to push students through this discomfort can lead to a genuinely enhanced sense of independence and self-belief. What is often the result of these programs is real experiential learning, personal growth and increased resilience.

Other key benefits of camp include:

  1. Leadership, and the ability to be led.
  2. Practical life skills.
  3. Connection and spiritual development
  4. Physical development
  5. Positive mental health

Year 9 Camp is often seen as a cutesy end-of-year activity to fill the time after assessments have been completed and the kids start winding down. This assumption could not be further from the truth.

Programs like this one have a unique capacity to impact students in ways that cannot be achieved in the normal classroom context. I love that our girls get to experience these things and I am certain that, even if they won’t admit it, it makes them happier, stronger and more well-rounded individuals.

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