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GRIT – Why Outdoor Ed is important

I have such a privileged position here at Woodleigh. I am lucky enough to be able to see students excel and demonstrate skills and leadership that was not always evident before in the classroom. I hear stories from parents about how their children returned from a program ‘…a little bit less of a child and a little bit more of an adult.’ I read comments from students in their reflections and chat to them back at school about how what they have just done was ‘…their best experience at Woodleigh.’

Having just finished Hattah, I witnessed some phenomenal displays of physical and emotional strength and of students validating what the culmination of the Woodleigh Outdoor Education program can achieve. The staff who were lucky enough to participate were amazed at the competence and sheer grit that the current Year 10s displayed during their time in that magical place. It was hot, it rained, it was windy, some did not pack enough food, the blisters were plentiful, backs were sore, spinifex was spikey and flies were persistent. Through all of this, we saw a group of young women and men look after each other, make real decisions for themselves with real consequences and grow in confidence as they realised they really did have the skills and knowledge to be able to look after themselves in the bush. This level of cohesiveness and resolve bodes well not just for VCE, but also for life beyond secondary school.

This has also led me to reflect on the Woodleigh Outdoor Education program as a whole. With myself and Nick Harrison being new to the roles of Director and Deputy Director of Outdoor Education, and Activities Week coming up in August, we have considered why it is that we do what we do. We keep coming back to this idea of grit; the perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal. The overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie on the path to accomplishment. (Thanks Wikipedia!) 

I think grit is at the core of Outdoor Education at Woodleigh. Students have grit when they participate in a camp that is outside their comfort zone. They show grit when they doggedly practise and learn a new skill. It takes grit to work with a  group of people who they don’t know very well. Outdoor Education at Woodleigh plays a vital role in the development of this essential skill.

And so, to students, with the Activities Week ballot coming out in the middle of this term, I encourage you to think about balloting for camps which will allow you to show some ‘grit’ and to be aware that there are still fantastic learning opportunities in not being given your first preference. Base your ballot on what inspires you, not on what your friends are doing. And, to parents, I ask that you counsel your children as they are balloting and be on board with the importance of the program and that there are fantastic opportunities in all of the camps Woodleigh has to offer. I look forward to hearing more stories and reading more reflections at the end of Term 3.

Andrew Peach Director of Outdoor Education