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It’s 2023 and we are in a world where computers and artificial intelligence can literally help us run our lives. More than ever it’s imperative that we force ourselves to take the time to stop and experience the world around us.

31 May 2023

For students of today it’s all the more important for them to have a balance of both learning through a computer and learning through experience. Old scholar and founder of Infuse Travel Sam Murray (1997) certainly believes this to be true, having seen first-hand the benefits of experiential learning with students.

An avid lover of adventure and the outdoors, Sam has worked in outdoor education and student travel for the past 20 years. Growing up in the Adelaide Hills, Sam credits his sense of adventure to his family and the experiences he had at Pembroke. ‘I think it was a combination of growing up in the Adelaide Hills and having a parent who was quite adventurous and passionate about getting me into the outdoors, and then opportunities through School to go on Duke of Edinburgh camps and rock climbing trips that really fuelled the love of the outdoors.’ After taking some time to travel following graduation, Sam decided to turn his passion into a career. Relocating to Victoria, he studied to become an outdoor education teacher, starting his career by running outdoor education programs for middle school students for many years.

Although his role now with Infuse Travel is somewhat different to when he was an outdoor educator, when asked what his experience was like as an educator, Sam recalls, ‘I really enjoyed teaching outdoor education. What really drives me, even still today, is providing exciting, enriching and hopefully life-shaping experiences for students. I had so many great experiences when I was a teenager, and I love being able to provide similar experiences to students today’.

Although Sam enjoyed being an educator, his career took a different turn while travelling with his wife Tracey in South America in 2008. Looking for a way to extend their time in Central America, Sam and Tracey began working for a company called Rustic Pathways, an educational travel company based in the USA. It was here that Sam led surf and service programs for high school students based in the USA. He enjoyed the experience so much that he then went on to establish the Australian branch of Rustic Pathways. Fast forward to 2022—although the COVID-19 pandemic saw a change in the global structure of Rustic Pathways, Sam and Tracey decided to start a new adventure and a new company called Infuse Travel.

Since its inception in 2022 Infuse Travel has gone from strength to strength, providing experiential travel programs for students across Australia. From connecting with the Martu people in East Pilbara, Western Australia, to learning about wildlife rehabilitation in South East Queensland, these trips are about service-learning and cultural immersion, taking students out of their comfort zone and connecting them with local people and communities—something that Sam believes is important for developing a person’s character. ‘For our students we try to infuse their life with adventure, friendship, new perspectives and new learnings through the programs that we deliver … developing skills and traits such as independence, grit, humility, intercultural awareness, problem-solving skills, empathy, compassion, and a sense of curiosity and wonder for what the world has to offer. We believe all of those things are really important in developing students into more globally minded citizens who can adapt to changing circumstances and be more resilient as they move through life’, says Sam.

The skills gained from the Infuse Travel trips is the reason why Principal Mark Staker engaged with Sam to bring the Beyond the Horizon travel program to Pembroke. After seeing the positive outcomes that the program had on students at Wenona School, it was only fitting that Mr Staker and Sam would bring the same positivity to Sam’s alma mater.

Looking back at his time at Pembroke, Sam reminisces fondly on the teachers he had, particularly those in outdoor education. Seeing how they turned their love of adventure and the outdoors into their careers was what inspired him to do the same. ‘It was a very positive and supportive experience at Pembroke. The teachers and the community were all wonderful—access to opportunities to find and develop passions were a real highlight.’

When asked what advice he would give to Pembroke students today, Sam said, ‘Keep exploring different pathways until you find something that you are passionate about. Relationships are such an important part of life so make sure you actively seek, build and maintain positive relationships. If you can find a pathway where you are serving other people, you’ll find a lot of satisfaction and reward.’

Candace Cox-Tuck
Manager, Old Scholar Engagement