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Field Centre

December 19, 2023 at 9:24 AM

An uninterrupted 2023 meant the planning and preparations for the 54th Field Centre could get underway early in the year! With systems and procedures well in place, we got the cogs turning to organise this behemoth event again. In 2023 we had just over four hundred Year 10 students attend (approximately two hundred each week), with eighty staff involved, and everyone accommodated in nine ski lodges on Mount Ruapehu over the fortnight. 2024 will prove an extra challenge for the planning team with 450 students in the cohort.

The programme for 2023 was relatively the same as the 2022 edition with students completing a 3-day expedition either in Tongariro National Park or Kaimanawa Forest Park, doing the Tongariro Crossing, white-water rafting, an adventure day either rock climbing or abseiling, or a Tyrolean traverse.

This year had a new addition, with a visit to a local papakāinga in Turangi. A papakāinga is not a marae but a living Māori community where iwi, whānau, and visitors from all around the world can experience the Māori way of life. Students were involved in a pōwhiri, mihi whakatau, waiata, and prepared and laid a traditional hāngi in a nearby geothermal outlet. The aim of this experience was for students and staff to gain an insight into the significance of the land and history of the places they were adventuring in. Students also were involved in building raised garden beds (in which the papakāinga will grow food for the surrounding communities), building a fence, and general gardening/landscaping tasks. Both students and staff enjoyed this day, especially interacting and listening to Sam Chapman who is a wealth of knowledge.

Field Centre is a jam-packed week of adventurous activities aimed at challenging the students and helping them form new connections and an appreciation of the surrounding environment. Despite the heavy rain at the start of both weeks which resulted in some sodden young people, overall the programme ran to plan, and every group was able to complete the Tongariro Crossing and their 3-day expeditions. Our students showed great resilience and remained in good spirits whatever the weather threw at them.

Field Centre would not happen if we didn’t have keen, competent, and supportive staff to help the students on their journey – so I want to thank all eighty staff and volunteers who gave it their all and provided the students with an amazing experience they will remember for a long time. A huge thanks goes to two remarkable ladies: Mrs Jo Horgan, our food chief who organised the catering for four hundred [ML1] people over two weeks – a massive task (and the students rated the food 4.2 out of 5!), and Mrs Leigh Meek, who did a lot of behind-the-scenes administration and supported me throughout the year. Also thank you to Mr Chris Duncan and Mr Stuart Mudford, who put in many hours in the gear shed ensuring we were well organised and our equipment was up to the highest standard. Field Centre would not run as smoothly as it does without these fine people.

Our Saint Kentigern community can be very proud of our Year 10 students for demonstrating our values of respect, integrity, service, excellence, and love whilst ‘down at the mountain’. They showed respect for each other and the surrounding environment, showed integrity by following through on challenges set, completed service for the environment and local communities by building gardens, and displayed excellence by doing their best – and they did all this with kind and caring attitudes.

From the student survey, 94% of students said they made closer connections with their lodge group and staff involved, 79% said they gained more appreciation for the environment, and 85% gave Field Centre a 4 or a 5 out of 5 for overall satisfaction.

Following are some anonymous quotes from our students:

“I had a very good time and made lasting memories with my friends and lodge members that I will probably never forget.”

“Field Centre was the best memory ever. I will remember it forever, I loved it so much.”

“The only bad thing about the trip was the weather, which you can’t really change or make better. But overall, despite all the challenges, I had a really good experience of Field Centre.”

“I enjoyed Field Centre a lot coming from someone who doesn’t like tramping and being so far from home. But I think I learnt a lot about taking risks and just remembering that Field Centre is to allow us to develop skills like leadership, communication, and teamwork. Field Centre was better than I thought, and I loved white water rafting especially.”

Finally, a thank you to the following organisations that are involved with Field Centre:

  • Adventure Specialties Trust
  • Dempsey Buses
  • Tongariro River Rafting
  • New World Tūrangi
  • OnRoad Rentals

Onwards and upwards for 2024.

Written by Mr Will Gage-Brown, Head of EOTC

 

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