Bushcraft beckons for intrepid parties


They were separated by 1,000 kilometres and a week or two, but for two groups of boys who spent time recently at the Australian Landscape Trust’s properties, their goals were identical.


Leadership, navigation skills and teamwork were top priorities for members of the 308th Army Cadet Unit, who spent the first weekend in June camping at Strathfieldsaye Estate in central Gippsland.


And a week before, 80 year seven boys from St Peters College in Adelaide spent from Monday, May 22 until Friday May 26 at Calperum Station in South Australia developing the same skills.


Another common feature both groups enjoyed – or perhaps endured – was camping out in night-time temperatures of 6°.


School groups have been visiting Calperum for some time – it is the second year that St Peters students have camped there – but 2017 is the first year educational activities have taken place at Strathfieldsaye Estate. The cadet unit’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Chrisp, said his unit first camped at the property in March. With the earlier visit, all the boys, who range in age between 13 and 18, were from Sale. But in June, as it was a leadership activity, they came from across Victoria. “We focus on initiative, tasks and challenges,” Captain Chrisp said. “We give them a map and a compass and they are required to find their way to a feature of interest on the property.”


A leader is nominated for each task and the boys are assessed on how well they work together as a team. The boys from St Peters spent their time bushwalking, canoeing, and learning about Calperum’s Indigenous history. An important part was time to reflect. “They each have a student journal that guides them with some key questions and they must think about the key themes of the program,” says the school’s Director of Outdoor Education, Emma Lowing. “Outdoor education is one of the key pillars of an education at St Peters “It takes boys outside of the traditional school grounds, providing experiences unlike anything that is able to be delivered and achieved within the classroom, on a sportsfield, or in a musical or drama performance.” “The Year Seven Program focusses on teamwork and responsibility, and activities such as canoeing on the Murray River makes these concepts come alive.”


Victorian-based Outdoor Education Group, which operates school outdoor education programs across Australia, facilitated the St Peters visit to Calperum.

The Strathfieldsaye campers spent more time doing than thinking, pursuing more rigorous activities than their South Australian counterparts. They were allowed the comforts of a fire and nutritious meals, but only after jumping through a few hoops. “We encourage them to make campfires, but we don’t give them any matches,” Captain Chrisp said. Food, too, at least initially, it hard to come bay. “They must forage for food,” he said. The boys are rewarded, with real food and the warmth of a campfire, but only after showing their initiative. “It’s all about them accepting challenges and achieving tasks,” Captain Chrisp said. “This is a way of keeping them on the ball.”


Hosting the groups helps that Australian Landscape Trust fulfil one of its key aims, which is involving the community in the natural environment at each of the properties.



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