26 May 2024

Expedition – Into the Unknown and Beyond

Dear all, Amidst blue skies and brilliant

26 May 2024

Dear all,

Amidst blue skies and brilliant birdsong, students left for their three-day Expeditions. Filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions – wonder, audacity, nervousness and trepidation, they wondered what lay ahead. Hefting heavy bags, some weighing at least 10kgs with cast iron woks lashed on!, they entered the bus leaving for the remoteness of Conondale National Park.

A picture is worth a thousand words – capturing an experience in a single moment. However, the students’ recounts express the Expedition’s essence and the Yin and Yang nature of the journey. 

“The first day, my back hurt because I was carrying half my body weight in food. Two people had to help me lift my bag onto my back! I enjoyed talking to my instructor as I walked along a forestry road. I loved building connections. On arrival at camp, there were robbers. They were the Bush Turkeys. Some friends reported that a chicken’ grabbed a small green bag and ran off with it.”

“I was carrying the heaviest bag. I was also last in my team. People were telling me to go faster, but I couldn’t. My knees were on fire every step, but I am proud that I persevered. The most beautiful thing was the campfire as we talked to each other. I loved getting to know my teammates and their different perspectives.”

“I found it really fun! We walked about 5km, which was a great length for everyone to do. All our bags were heavy. The campfire was very nice! We also saw a baby Kangaroo that came out of the bush. Bush Turkeys were running off with our food and Hot Chocolate. My sleeping bag was warm even if it got down to 2 degrees. Going to bed quite early was great, and I was woken by the sounds of my team murmuring.” 

Day 2 was always going to be challenging for the students. Getting used to sleeping in a tent, waking up to the briskness of the cool mornings, and having to get sore muscles moving (kind of like oiling a rusty bike) could take some time! Here are some of the perspectives of the students:

“The food was better than I expected. Although I don’t think instant oatmeal and powdered milk go together. We were freezing when we woke up. Taking the tents down was difficult because it was still so frigid. My hands were shivering. The hike on the second day was four hours and steep! At least one km of going up and down rolling hills. One of the hard points was that many people fell on the creek crossings and completely got soaked! I was happy that I had waterproof shoes. Swimming in the river was refreshing and cool after the exhausting hike.”

“We had to be quick for breakfast and packing up. The message was that it could take time, so we wanted to be efficient. Our route was 7km, and it was scorching hot because there wasn’t a lot of cover. Near the end, I felt relieved as there was plenty more shade, and I could escape from the sun. Making it to the destination and working together with everyone made me proud.”

“Tiring but fun! We were lucky we went Mountain Biking. It was easy to begin with, and it was a quick play. Hiking was tiring, but we learned much about the wildlife and vegetation. I saw a Guana, and one of the instructors said it tasted good! I was interested in the plants that could help you survive (edible) and even mosquito bites. We got the challenge of chasing the Bush Turkeys and catching them.”

It was fitting that on Day 3, the end of the Expedition, we were treated to an explosion of fire lining the skyline in the fading light of Friday. It was a day indeed to remember as chapter one closed, and like an exciting story, everyone was eager for chapter two to begin.

The cohort returned full of energy, and you could see the relief as they returned to the familiar comforts of their six week home – showers, bunk beds, and, of course, the dining hall. You can imagine how many of the group went up for seconds and for some thirds for dinner that night!

We had some weary bodies waking up after Expedition. However, skill development day provided a more relaxing but intellectually engaging day as the instructors introduced the group to many new skills. The skills introduced included belaying, invasive species, canoeing, reading maps, and mountain biking. Positive mindsets and determination resulted in many successes. We were proud to see many students cycle for the first time! How special is that.

The day concluded with a Minute to Win It competition between the groups. Minute to Win It is a series of one-minute challenges to achieve a goal. It was rowdy, spirited, but most importantly the students’ buckets were filled with positive emotions and energy.

Almost over a week has passed, and we definitely notice how your children are growing, changing, and transforming. I am sure you are as proud as we are. We could not ask any more of this inspirational cohort. 

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