So what’s the fuss about camping, and why do teachers bother to go through the logistical, administrative and legislative schlep in order to take 131 energetic, hyped and some-times homesick kids on an excursion away from home and school? The answer is simple: this is where true learning happens.

On camp young learners have the opportunity to grow through a structured programme designed to promote social skills, life skills and develop character. During this time, they get to build confidence and resilience whilst unplugging from technology and getting into touch with nature, their peers and themselves. This kind of non- competitive environment where their bodies, minds and social skills are challenged, allows them to try new (and thereby maybe a little frightening) things and teaches them how to cope with setbacks.

Opportunities are provided for growth in independence and personal responsibility. Camp is the perfect place for them to practice making decisions for themselves without parents and teachers guiding every their every move. Managing their daily responsibilities and choices in the safe, caring environment helps them to discover who they really are and what they are truly capable of.

One of the wonderful characteristics that is nurtured at camp is the attitude of gratitude. This too links with personal responsibility as well as interdependence – gratitude is a choice which has a direct impact on our sense of responsibility and actions towards others. In this regards, students are encouraged to revisit their own perspective and take into account the vast amount of opportunities, privileges and material possessions they get to enjoy. When our young learners recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, they are better able to have a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are; this way they may be more inclined to treat others with respect.

The Grade 7s took the opportunity to say their thank-yous. Here are some of the responses:

“I am very grateful that every activity we did was very safe, from the high ropes to the paddling – everything went smoothly and safely. I am grateful that the staff went out of their way to make every inch of the camp enjoyable for us and that they took the time to set up and get everything ready. I am grateful that they took the time to prepare the lovely meals we had; and even make the meal for us vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians.” – Lucie

“I am so grateful for camp because we did so many things that you only get to do once in a lifetime. It is such a wonderful learning experience. I am so grateful for all the people at the camp. They helped make it amazing. Camp was such an amazing thing to do. I am grateful for all the teachers and camp leaders. They worked so hard to make it a joyful time. We got to work as a team and learn many new things so that is something I value and appreciate.” – Chloë

“I was grateful for all the effort and time the camp staff put into the activities, food and the campsite itself. I had so much fun! I am also so grateful to my family for making this camp possible by paying for my camp. Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime.” – Alex

One of the Grade 7 students even wrote this poem as a way to say thank you:

Grade 7 Camp

Grade 7 Camp was quite an adventure

All of us, hyped up to try new things for sure

We started our journey on a Monday morning

by piling into busses, cars, combis and then driving

all the way towards Worcester

to find our camp along the Breede River

We snacked on our ‘padkos’ and chatted happily

sang songs and laughed all feeling so merry

Once we reached our spot we all scrambled about

to find our dorms for our comfortable sleep-out

We were put in different teams for our activities

like climbing, games and responsibilities

The highlight for most was the river rafting

some feeling nervous and others good at paddling

The meals were good and most had seconds

and we really enjoyed our ‘potjie’ best, I reckon

The mozzies enjoyed their very own feast

and I am covered with huge bites from these tiny beasts

We returned on a hot Wednesday afternoon

many so ready for home, for some, it felt too soon.

written by: Holly van der Loo

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