News from the Field Studies CentreNick Van Breda
There was an air of excitement around the Field Studies Centre leading into this week as preparations were made before the final group of students for the year arrived on Monday. A couple of hours after leaving Summer Hill, following an early start, the boys stepped off the bus looking more than ready to engage in four weeks of outdoor learning, challenge and adventure. The 76 students will be working together with the staff to create a sense of community at the Woollamia campus, that all members of the community actively contribute to.
An Acknowledgement of Country and introduction to the FSC team helped set the scene and expectations for the coming weeks. Each boy is asked to consider some of the challenges that they will likely face during the programme and are reminded that at the edge of our comfort zone is where learning and growth occur. After taking some time to settle into their dorms, the boys were treated to the chef’s special burgers for lunch, which has become quite the tradition over the last two years. The groups then broke into a tour of the campus and ice breaker activities with their field studies tutors.
Learning to lead happens from day one of the FSP. I enjoyed listening in to one of the pastoral groups discuss the benefits and limitations of autocratic, democratic and laissez faire leadership styles, which coincidentally, was content they had covered in a recent PDHPE lesson at Summer Hill. Now it is time to apply the theories of leadership amongst their peers. Each pastoral group develops a ‘full value contract’ early in the experience, which outlines the norms and expectations that each boy will be accountable to. Contributing to the team, considering others and stepping into the responsibility of being a leader are themes that emerged from this activity.
The students have rotated around a number of activities onsite this week, learning to mountain bike, canoe and navigate, and developing their roping, archery and camp craft skills. The camp-outs for this programme are being conducted on campus at Woollamia due to COVID restrictions. This does not take anything away from the experience, though, with the boys clearly enjoying the challenge of preparing their own meals and generating warmth as they kept the campfire stoked. The academic programme also kicks into gear this week, providing an opportunity to put the new classroom spaces into use. The versatility of the design is proving effective already. The middle two classrooms open up to create an excellent space for collaborative learning, and the expansive verandah spaces allow for a seamless interaction between outdoor and indoor learning.
Tim Knowles | Head of the Field Studies Centre (FSC)