Mention the word ‘camping’ in my home and immediately there’s a buzz in the air. Whether it’s creating a cubby in the backyard, packing the car and heading bush, or our most recent adventure of pushing a laden movers trolley to our local school - camping + kids = excitement!
We felt a bit like gypsies as we started our journey, and I’m sure there was a sideways glance or two from the afternoon dog walkers, but as we approached the school we felt part of the gang. Like ants returning to the nest, we joined other families pushing wheelbarrows, prams, trolleys and carts packed with tents and sleeping paraphernalia. What was happening? CampOUT! 2018.
In its second year, CampOUT! is an initiative of Southern Cross Early Childhood School’s (SCECS) P&C Committee, Principal and Community Coordinator to bring its school community together in a shared overnight camping experience in the school grounds. Sounds simple…yes? Simple in concept it’s true, but holding such an adventure with the inclusion of a fire pit on school grounds doesn’t coming without a pile of paperwork, checks and risk assessment.
In an era where risk aversion is high and many organisations view creating potentially risky scenarios as being in the too hard basket, we asked SCECS Principal, Lyndall Read, what’s driven her and the school community to create CampOUT!
Here’s what Lyndall shared with us, “Research shows that the outside learning environment is just as important for children as the learning that happens inside the school walls. At Southern Cross we work with children and families so they have every opportunity to feel confident in and to value the outdoors as this is key for positive child development and growth and supports our community. We are also continuously looking for ways to challenge our children and support them to understand and manage risk. We also know that in the future, working together as part of a team and solving problems will be valued skills for their future lives. Camping on-site at the school with families and other community members, along with other opportunities offered at the school, provide a safe place for even the youngest child to enjoy, value and protect our environment.”
30 families participated in the overnight event with several experiencing their first ever camping adventure with the support of the school community. Bringing families together in a shared outdoor experience truly role models the school’s motto “From Little Things Big Things Grow”. Evidence shows that connecting children with nature in the early childhood setting is the best way to seed a love of active outdoor play for life. Experiencing fire and how to be safe, toasting marshmallows, going on a spotlighting tour scavenger hunt, enjoying a pre-bedtime story outside and sleeping under the stars - stirs imagination and creates important, positive childhood memories in nature.
As more people are now living in homes without a backyard or smaller outdoor spaces, and spend the majority of their leisure time in suburban areas, initiatives such as CampOUT! become even more important in connecting families with nature rich outdoor adventures that were once a more common part of childhood.
I hope everyone who attended CampOUT! grabbed their Nature Play CBR Things to Do…”Before You’re 5” and “Before You’re 12” Playlists and ticked off all of the activities that you achieved at CampOUT! Remember to keep your playlist handy and continue creating more nature play days for your family.
If you’re a parent reading this and thinking “I want my school onboard to create a camp”, please speak to other parents, your P&C Committee and your Principal and start the conversation about creating your own CampOUT! event.