Over the last few days I have been reminded of my time with Adventure Education. Nearly thirty years ago, I was a business partner in this outdoor education company that specialised in experiential education programs for schools. There are so many stories to tell around my time as a director.
Young and full of energy, I ran the business and worked in a kids' refuge as a direct care worker to pay the bills on my days off. I would leave one job to do a night shift and go back again. I wouldn’t mind some of that energy now.
SCECGS Redlands became our biggest client. My job was to design, cost and run the outdoor program for the entire school. It would start with the primary school kids, taking them to the park to chase grasshoppers and start the introduction to our program of environmental and social education.
Each year the kids progressed into a more intensive program. Some years were heavily set in environmental field study centres, like Yarrahapinni. Other years were very community based where we taught interpersonal skills. Their final year saw us teaching leadership skills just before they started their HSC. This was all tied together with outdoor adventures. Bushwalking, camping, canoeing and the usual mix of activities at height, such as high ropes, rockclimbing and abseiling.
The finale saw the near university-ready students design and run their own outdoor program. Something I facilitated personally, teaching and helping the students put together their own trip.
It was a massive program. 200 kids per group. We occasionally needed forty to fifty staff to run a year group. The food used to arrive by the truckfull.
One of the many highlights of that program was spending a few days with the headmaster from the Peter Cornish School, as we visited the kids in their campsites in the bush.
He said to me “Len, you are to be commended, for you have changed the culture of the school.” In a very short space of time the school had become more caring and community based.
If we could change a huge school's attitude in a year or two, it is possible to change one person's.
Curly Pandanas at Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. I can’t wait to run my photography workshop there this year. Such a beautiful place. Photograph and text copyright ©️ Len Metcalf 2018