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Five top tips to create a culturally enriching school camp experience

Our culture is a part of us, it’s the centre of everything we are and everything we do.

Schools are a melting pot of multiculturalism so how can we use a camp to extend beyond the classroom to enhance the interconnection of our students?

Talk the talk and walk the walk

With 10 December 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of International Human Rights Day, commemorating the date the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Preparing for camp is the opportune moment to reinforce the fact every person has the right to be treated equally.

Camp can be an eye opener. Students are used to being around each other during the day at school, however living 24/7 with their peer group is a whole new ball game.

Things to consider include:

  • Establish a camp culture whereby every student feels equal and respected.
  • Play around with different types of groupings – use random approaches like names out of hat
  • Encourage students to branch out and make new friends
  • Reinforce the parameters and consequences if someone breaks the established code of ethics on camp

Celebrate differences and similarities

It’s an old adage (and no secret) – but we are all different. Acceptance only comes through understanding, so getting to know your students and encouraging them to share their cultural differences is a powerful way to develop an inclusive environment.

Here are some ideas to set the scene at camp:

  • Encourage each student to research and share some of the customs of their own culture
  • Talk about how school camps might be approached in different countries
  • Discuss cuisines from around the world – maybe even put on an international night activity
  • Use the beauty of oral story telling – particularly near bedtime
  • Remind the students to think about what unites us all

Play this game

Most commonly called Accept / Reject this game is best played at the start of camp or even at school just prior. It’s the type of game you can continue to refer back to over and over again.

You’ll need safety pins, a large space to move around, a timer and a set of carefully worded signs (one per student) that include statements such as:

  • Always accept this person (depending on the size of the group only give to a couple of students)
  • Only accept this person in rounds 2,4,5
  • Only accept this person in rounds 1,7,9
  • Only accept this person in rounds 3,5,8 if they have the same first letter in their name as you
  • Only accept this person in rounds 2,8,9,10 if they have the same eye colour as you
  • Only accept this person in rounds 2,5,7,10 if they have a pet
  • Only accept this person in rounds 3,7,9 if they are wearing a blue top

You get the idea!

To start the game, pin a sign (choose carefully) on each student’s back without them seeing what is written.

The game is best done in ten rounds, 1-2 minutes for each round with a slight gap between each.

The aim is for students to move around the space to form groups by reading what is written on each other’s back. Each round is done in total silence so students have to come up with ways to communicate using body language. Naturally the groups will be different each time.

This game is far reaching and its true power is in the discussion afterwards with lead questions like:

  • What did it feel like to be accepted or rejected?
  • When you were rejected what did you do?
  • Who guessed what was written on their back?
  • How did you go about forming a group each time?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • Why do you think we played the game?
  • How does this game relate to real life?

Recognise cultural needs

Each student on camp will have their own way of doing things and responding to stimuli. Developing an atmosphere where every student feels comfortable and valued is key.

Things to think about include:

  • Food choices – there maybe cultural restrictions on certain ingredients
  • Personal hygiene routine – approaches to bathing, showering and using deodorants may vary
  • Privacy – naturally to always be respected, especially as what’s acceptable can vary in different cultures
  • Dining procedure – even down to eating utensils, many students may not use Western style cutlery.
  • Dress code – be aware of certain restrictions some students may have particularly surrounding water sports
  • Shared facilities – for some students this can be daunting, ensure everyone understands the layout and expectations of keeping the area clean etc

Embrace the local Aboriginal culture

Incorporating a range of indigenous activities in Gumbaynggir country is a profound way for students to tap into the ancient culture of the land on which they walk.
Activities both onsite and off are designed to inspire students to learn more about the Aboriginal culture of the region. Activities include:

  • Welcome to country ceremony that pays respect to the Gumbaynggir people, the traditional custodians of the Coffs Coast
  • Dreamtime stories told by Gumbaynggir elders around the campfire
  • Learn about the cultural significance of Giidany Miirlarl (Mutton bird Island) from a National Parks Aboriginal Discovery Ranger
  • Discover the ancient stories of this land through a series of sculptures along the walking trail to Korora Lookout
  • Take a walk along Bonville Creek with a National Parks Aboriginal Discovery Ranger and discover the bush tucker of the area

Molly, our Camp Concierge can help you to design a culturally rich camp itinerary that encompasses the needs of all your students in an open and authentic manner.

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02 6653 5311

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Our daughter stayed this week with her school and just LOVED everything!!!!!

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I recently had the pleasure to attend the Coffs Adventure Centre with my school for a few days.  I came as an assistant but personally had the most rewarding few days.  I tried things I never would have, stepped out of my comfort zone and achieved things I didn’t think were possible.  By doing this it encouraged the children to push themselves that little bit further and I got the privilege to witness the children I didn’t think would involve themselves in activities just shine. To see them so happy and working as a team was also very rewarding.  The staff were all so fantastic and enthusiastic which also made our stay that much more enjoyable.  Thank you for the experience.

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