During Term 1 the Year 10 students have been undertaking their Outdoor Education Journey. This is the pinnacle of the Middle School Outdoor Education program and sees the students exploring the Finniss River, Murray River, Lake Alexandrina and Coorong National Park by kayak and ketch. This experience is always an adventure that promotes resilience and empathy and fosters the community spirit that we all know as ‘the Pembroke way’.
This year, with the wet summer, we have observed high freshwater levels within Lake Alexandrina, and this water has had the ability to flow throughout the Coorong National Park and out through the Murray Mouth. This has presented our students with a unique environmental opportunity, as for many years the waters within the Coorong have been hypersaline. This year the river has truly flowed, prompting a short-term return to balance within the ecosystem.
Our sailors and kayakers have shown persistence and perseverance in overcoming the added challenge of this extra water, which presents as a 4-knot river current often going the wrong way. This strong-willed approach has enabled them to adapt and overcome the challenge, allowing them to explore the wilderness of the Coorong National Park. We are in a privileged position in having a flotilla of expedition sailboats that have been custom built for their application. These state-of-the-art yachts enable the students to sail safely to their remote campsites, allowing them to have unique experiences.
During the course of this journey the students examine the footprint that they leave behind. They have been conscientiously sorting and examining their recycling, compost and rubbish. We have introduced soft plastic recyclable and sustainable products to reduce our immediate impact. At the end of the experience the students undertake a measurement of the waste that ends up in landfill and we use this as a gauge of sustainability; our average so far has been about 100 g of rubbish per person for a 6-day adventure.
This year’s cohort are to be commended on their positive attitude, community spirit and ability to support and encourage each other. At the end of the experience the students are often tired and slightly emotional but leave the wilderness having discovered a place that is close to their heart. ‘Camp’ is not a holiday, but rather a time that students work harder than they may have done the week before. It’s a time that provides honesty and opportunity. It allows our students the space and place to discover who they are. We all need to be supportive, encouraging and mostly proud of student achievements in the outdoors.
Outdoor Edcuation Teacher