“We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race.” – Kofi Annan, Secretary General, United Nations.
According to the 2018 Midyear Census, EAL/D annual survey, one in three students in NSW government schools has a language background other than English.
Recognising and respecting different cultures is an essential part of education and school camp provides an open environment for students to embrace and explore the richness of our multicultural society.
Here are five ideas to help create a culturally engaging school camp:
Plan an international night
Being away from home is a great way for students to focus on customs and traditions of different cultures. Here are some simple ideas to travel around the world in an evening:
- Explore ways various cultures give thanks before / during / after meals.
- Look at different foods around the world – national dishes, ways food is served, eaten etc.
- Use music as a stimulus – chants and drumming are used in many cultures as a way of communicating.
- Encourage small groups to research an international game and teach it to the whole group – e.g. there are many variations of tag games throughout the world and different countries have their own spin on the ancient board game of Mancala.
Play the Accept/Reject game
Labels are dividers. They make students more aware of differences. Games can help students understand how detrimental labels can be!
The Accept/Reject game is a great way to help students really feel the impact of labels. The full game is detailed in our previous blog Five Top Tips to Create a Culturally Enriching School Camp Experience.
If time is short, here’s an abridged version that sparks similar discussions:
- Write messages on a series of sticky labels, e.g. give me a thumbs up, how about a high five, smile, turn your back on me, shake my hand, etc.
- Randomly stick a label on the forehead of each student (without them knowing what it says).
- Set a time limit for students to mingle in a pseudo social setting responding to the instruction on the forehead of each person they meet without speaking.
- Remember to reinforce for the students to not disclose what’s written on anyone’s label.
- Once the time is up, discuss what was written on the various labels and how they felt.
- Key discussion points centre on the ‘turn your back on me’ label – when are times people might turn their back on someone? Why? How do we encourage a more inclusive society?
Tap into the local Aboriginal culture
The Gumbaynggirr people are the original peoples of the Coffs Coast. There are a number of ways to explore their stories and culture while hosting a school camp in our region:
- Incorporate a welcome to country ceremony and discuss how other cultures welcome guests.
- Explore Dreamtime stories and discuss the importance of story in culture and customs.
- Encourage students to share stories and customs from their own cultural heritage.
Use potatoes as a leveller
This game is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to teaching acceptance. All you need is a sack of spuds. Here’s what to do:
- Sit in a circle and pass the sack around for each student to take a spud.
- Give the students a few minutes to study their spud and come up with a short description based on things like – shape, patterns, lumps and bumps. (As an extension activity, students can also make up a story based on how their potato got its shape, bumps etc.)
- Students then pair up and introduce their spud to their partner.
- Re-form into the large group and discuss the activity. Focus on questions such as: Are all potatoes the same? How are these potatoes like a group of people? What is stereotyping?
- Finish the activity by asking the students to place their spud back in the bag and close their eyes.
- Spread the potatoes out on the inside of the circle and see if the students can identify their spud.
Enjoy dormitory life
Sharing a dormitory, is, for many students one of the highlights of school camp. It’s also a wonderful way to enable students to work together in an environment that requires understanding and acceptance. Here are some ideas to encourage student team work in the dormitories:
- Establish a code of conduct.
- Ask the students to decide on a name / song/ logo / for their dorm.
- Encourage students to cover a range of chores and share the workload.
- Designate ‘dorm’ time where students can chat about the day’s activities.
You will find more ideas for ideas to embrace cultural differences in our previous blogs:
At Coffs Coast Adventure Centre, we’re committed to embracing diversity. Shannon, our Camp Concierge can help you plan a culturally enriching program for your school camp.