Education by nature: Five ways nature can enhance your school camp 

In a technologically driven world, spending time outdoors is now more important than ever.
School camp is the perfect backdrop to help students develop an understanding and love for our natural world.

Here are five ways to use the natural environment to enhance your school camp:

Survival skills

Learning how to stay safe is an essential part of life. Camp is a perfect place to teach your students some basic survival skills. The creative thinking and respect for nature needed to perform these deeds are as essential in the city as they are on a Bear Grylls adventure.

  • Erect a bush shelter. Set a time limit for students to work in small groups. Provide a collection of materials and restrict what students can gather (e.g. no stripping trees etc). At the end of the construction time, each team shelters in their structure for the ‘weather test’ – a bucket of water thrown over the shelter.
  •  Build a camp fire. Having a healthy respect for fire and learning the safety procedures is an essential part of Australian life, and particularly topical with this summer’s bushfire crisis. Gather wood, construct and light a fire safely. While you sit around the fire, focus on discussing summer fire bans, the role of CFA, emergency evacuation plans and other fire related safety concerns.
  • Learn compass skills. Create a compass trail.  Form teams of 3-4 students. Stagger the start of each team. Each team uses the compass to follow a set of directions, e.g. take 20 steps South, 40 steps East etc. Depending on the level of your group, swap NSEW for degrees, e.g. set a bearing at 45? and take 30 steps.

Embrace the environment

School camp is a wonderful opportunity for students to open their eyes and develop an appreciation and respect for the environment. You can:

  • Learn from the local Gumbaynggir people who have long been custodians of this land.  Take a bush tucker tour with a National Parks Aboriginal Discovery Ranger, or head out on stand up paddle boards with Wajaana Yaam.
  • Take a sensory walk through the bushland surrounding camp. Get students to focus on the sights and sounds. You could also take an excursion with a National Parks Ranger in Dorrigo National Park to be guided through sensing the rainforest.
  • If you are here between June and November you can head out to witness the migration of the humpback whales.  Talk to students about their journey, where they go and why.

Focus on sustainability

Create a school camp atmosphere to encourage students to discuss and challenge how we can protect our world for future generations. Things to look at:

  • Discover the sustainable practices of the local Gumbaynggirr people. This can be combined with a session with a National Parks Aboriginal Discovery Ranger.
  • Investigate ocean health. What signs can we see that tell us the ocean is healthy or unhealthy?   What steps can we take to improve the health of our oceans?  This can be combined with a visit to the National Marine Science Centre.

Tree hug

Nothing says nature more than a tree.  But these days too few students have a real relationship with trees.  Let’s change that.

Split the group into partners. One partner is blindfolded while the other is the leader.
The leader selects a tree to lead his/her partner to. The partner with the blindfold hugs the tree then touches it to discover as much as possible about the tree.  Consider the texture, the smell of the bark, the feel and smell of the leaves etc. Partners swap roles and the second partner is led to a different tree.  As a group discuss what you have discovered about trees.

Nature challenge

This whole group activity is a great way for students to bond with the environment and push the boundaries to look beyond the obvious.

  • Define the playing area and rules re touching natural objects, e.g. not disturbing wildlife, breaking branches etc.
  • Call a challenge and give students a time limit to find an object that fits the criteria. Keep in mind the object doesn’t need to be brought back, it can simply be described.
  • Ideas for challenges include – find something with a shiny texture, find something that shows signs of erosion, find a natural object with four parts, find something with a sound that makes you feel happy, find something old or young.

No doubt your students will be surprised to discover the amazing world that awaits beyond their devices.  School camp is a unique time to connect students with nature.

You will find more ideas for activities in nature in our past blogs Five Great School Camp Ideas for Team Building and Top Five School Camp Activities for Spring.

Shannon, our Camp Concierge would also love help you educate your students through nature on school camp.  Get in touch today.

Call our Camp Conccierge 02 6653 5311

Shannon Kent - Bookings Manager at the Coffs Coast Adventure Centre

Let Shannon help you with booking and planning your camp.

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