College Field Centre 2013

November 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

For 44 years, the College has run an annual ‘Field Centre’ in the Tongariro National Park for our students in Year 10, giving them a unique opportunity to gain independence and explore personal strengths in an exciting, spectacular and challenging outdoor environment. This year over 320 students and staff climbed aboard the buses with their packs loaded, wearing their brand new, borrowed or hired outdoor clothing ready for a week of adventure. The first groups left for the mountain on Monday followed by a second and third ‘wave’ on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were joined by three professional mountain guides.

Tongariro is unpredictable with no two years in a row ever the same. The mountain environment can be benign one moment and harsh the next and with this in mind, safety on the mountain is about being well prepared. In past years we have had to deal with high winds, rain and snow that can be demoralising at the time but on reflection becomes part of digging deep and building character. Other years, the sun has shone and the mountain has been at its best. It’s all about planning and being prepared.

The conditions last year will go down in memory as the year ‘the mountain misbehaved’ when Mt Tongariro erupted at the very moment the first students arrived. The long experience and outdoor expertise of our staff in planning for Field Centre came to the fore on that occasion, as a well-oiled team re-planned the week’s programme overnight and, with the assistance of DOC and the local police, made sure that despite the conditions elsewhere in the National Park, our students and staff would be safe.

The logistics for bringing an EOTC (Education Outside the Classoom) trip such as this together are huge and takes months of planning. The students are sorted into 12 Lodge groupings along with staff who undertake the activities with them, and cooks who stay in the Lodge to prepare the meals. That is, 320 people requiring three meals, snacks and drinks a day whether in the Lodge or out on the mountain. Again, a well-oiled team swings into action. Ms Emma Bishop (Head of Drama) has taken on the responsibility over a number of years for co-ordinating food supplies. The bulk is pre-purchased in Auckland at New World (we thank the Samuels family for their support with this) and driven to the mountain where it is offloaded in the central car park and then carried box by box up to the Lodges – the students’ first chore! This is supplemented by daily deliveries from the local New World in Ohakune.

The equipment required for the overnight tramps is also another huge logistical undertaking. A tent is little use without its tent poles when you’re six hours hike from civilisation! Likewise, leaving your wet weather jacket back at the Lodge could spell disaster. Tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food, water, spare clothing, first aid supplies, maps and, um…spades for essential business, all have to be distributed, checked, checked again and carried.

The first few photos from off the mountain this year show that it’s pretty damp! Despite the rain the students are smiling and all activities are running to schedule and not yet affected by the weather. With all groups now arrived on the mountain, we wish them well for a week of outdoor challenges and we will look forward to hearing about your adventures on your return!

A reminder to our parents that Mr Duncan McQueen is posting reports daily in the Middle School section on OLE.

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