Stage 2 Students Flourish on the Fleurieau Peninsula

Stage 2 Students Flourish on the Fleurieau Peninsula

Mercy Light: Learning

Outdoor Education, offered to students at Stage 1 and Stage 2 of their secondary studies, offers experiential learning about the natural world and how we interact with it. It enhances students’ understanding of conservation and sustainability and their personal and social growth.

Recently Stage 2 Outdoor Education students completed the first of two major expeditions, venturing to Ngarrindjeri country across the Southern Fleurieu for several days of camping and hiking in Deep Creek National Park. Just a few hours’ drive from SAC, the park is offers spectacular views, from the far shores of Kangaroo Island to the craggy slopes of Deep Creek Valley.

The outdoors lend challenges and encounters that many young people do not have the opportunity to engage with, from seeing native wildlife up-close in their habitat, to developing knowledge of how to navigate remote areas, create basic shelters, or treat injuries.  Reflecting on this expedition – one of the last she’ll partake in as a school student – Alicia Rudko said, “hiking long distances, camping in tents, preparing our meals and cooking for ourselves helps to build some resilience. I think it’s important to experience these kinds of challenges because it helps us to stay motivated, to appreciate what we have. After you’ve done a big hike, you feel like you’ve achieved something.”

Alicia’s peer, Isabelle Crotty, agrees. “Outdoor Education camps are different from camps we participate in during earlier years. Outdoor Ed camps require us to be more independent, and teachers encourage us to step outside our comfort zone. We sleep in tents that we set up and put down by ourselves, we create our own meal plans and we cook together.”

Outdoor Education teacher, Mr Michael Heath, has vast experience leading such expeditions, instructing students on the importance of understanding group dynamics and leaving minimal impact during their time in environments like Deep Creek.

Alicia says students are taught early on in Outdoor Education that it’s important to, “take only photographs and leave only footprints!”

The group trekked well over 30 kilometres during this recent trip.

“The walk was a brisk pace, including stretches of the famous Heysen Trail, with students enjoying the spacious plains and admiring nearby herds of cattle, chasing the last few hours of sunlight. Glowing sunsets are the reward at the end of these long days, and then it’s time to cook up a storm and debrief on our experiences,” recounts Mr Heath.

Evening debriefs take place around the ‘bush television’ – a campfire – and offer staff valuable insights into the development of students and the progression of their learning.

Additionally, they help strengthen group bonds and encourage broad discussion.

“I suggested that we share one sweet memory of the day, and one sour memory of the day,” Alicia explains, “it helps us to keep a balanced view, but most people never had a sour thing to share. That’s because we can focus on the sweet moments. I can remember one student sharing how much she appreciated having full use of her legs. This isn’t something we would usually say at school, or at the end of a normal day, but being outside and testing our limits helps us to practice gratitude.”

Gratitude doesn’t end when the expedition does; the journey back to Adelaide is a period of physical, mental and emotional transition. Although tuckered-out, it’s a time for students and staff to continue sharing memories of their time in nature’s classroom. Memories of achy limbs from long treks will indeed fade, but it’s these memories – those of simple moments of joy, humour and growth – that last.

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing & Communications Team