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Year 3 Camp All Go!

December 06, 2019 at 3:01 PM

After last year’s unseasonal cold snap and rain thwarted plans for the first Year 3 boys’ overnight camp, there was a huge sigh of relief this week when the sun shone down, giving the all clear to go ahead!

In the past, the boys in Year 3 experienced their first ‘school night’ away from home at the former Zoo Snooze programme at Auckland Zoo. No longer on offer, the Junior School staff devised a new and challenging programme last year, to give the Year 3 boys a taste of school camps to come, making the most of our own amazing ‘school camp ground’ and the natural facilities around campus – but sadly, last year, the sleepover was not to be.

This year, with all the elements in our favour, the boys arrived at school, not only with their school bags, but also sleeping bags and PJs for a night away from home – a first for many! The timetable was suspended and using the outdoor expertise of Todd Dorset (brother of staff member, Kurt), the Year 3 boys enjoyed two fantastic days of outdoor activity! It’s fair to say that the boys were quickly engaged in a variety of action- packed activities, and ‘quiet times’ in ‘quiet places,’ by rotation.

The most essential equipment was a tent for the night and as they unpacked the tents, poles and pegs, questions began to fly. ‘Which way up does this go?’ ‘What does this piece do?’ ‘How does this fit together.’ Bit by bit they learned the art of working co-operatively, and the communication between the boys as they pulled together was fantastic!

The pool was put to use to learn to kayak. Here, the focus was very much about developing the confidence and skills to not only paddle a kayak, but to know how to cope when things go awry. Time was spent practising holding their breath underwater before being tipped out the kayak and learning the correct procedure to clamber back in. The huge smiles said everything!

Hearing the Legend of Maui, and how he used flax ropes to ensnare the sun, the boys learnt how to strip and prepare flax for plaiting. The boys took the responsibility of handling ‘stripping knives’ – a section of saw tooth – very sensibly, working in pairs to soften the fibres before plaiting into long ropes – and then testing its strength with a tug of war!

No camp experience is complete without a campfire and there is nothing like the smell of doughnuts cooking on an open fire! The boys learnt how to rub sticks to create a spark to start a fire – not an easy feat - before cooking their tasty treats on sticks over the flames. Delicious!

Late in the day, the boys all pulled together to construct a tepee. Standing metres high, this required careful teamwork by the boys to manoeuvre the giant bamboo supporting structures into place, before taking it in turns to hammer in the pegs

As a respite from activity, the boys were encouraged to take quiet time out to read in either the tepees or in hammocks dotted around amongst the trees. Getting in the hammocks proved just a little more challenging than anticipated – resulting in some hilarious ‘cartoon’ moments! No, it’s not easy to read hanging upside down!

As day turned to twilight, the boys were joined by Principal, Mr Cassie to enjoy a filling barbecue dinner – cooked by a willing band of Year 8 boys. There was not a lot of lettuce added to the plates, but the sausages and burgers went down a treat!

With pyjamas and teeth cleaned, there was one last physical activity as the boys let off the last of their energy in a noisy round of tug of war. Then, it was time to settle quietly to listen to former student, Paddy Leishman sing – well, maybe not so quietly as there was still some energy left to dance!

But it was a tired group of boys who finally settled into their sleeping bags overnight. The staff were definitely ready for sleep too!

There was so much packed into day one, but part of a camp experience is being ready for the next challenge ahead! Rising to another beautiful day, breakfast was eaten, tents tidied and sleeping bags packed away ready to get the day underway. Whilst swimming and quiet games in shady spots were on the cards, the main focus was on taking a hike in groups around the Orakei Basin – with plenty of sunblock and water to drink, for it was another hot day!

With the weather in our favour, the entire camp was an outstanding success. The boys developed a first taste of independence, along with a love of camping that has set them up well for future EOTC experiences. Our thanks to the staff and Year 8 students involved for the part they played in making this such an enjoyable experience for the boys. When the parents arrived to collect their sons at the end of the two days, the boys were bubbling with stories to tell….and were very tired!

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