Each year, at the start of November, the sheep-to-human ratio of Tambellup is altered dramatically as our Year 9 cohort descend on this tiny Great Southern town. At the outset, the students are given strict instructions to be on their absolute best behaviour because, as is the case in all regional towns, “Everyone knows who you are!” And as always, our students didn’t let us down, but represented our College with the maturity we aim to develop through the Rite Journey program.
We threw a wide range of challenges at them, starting with their basic living conditions: no cute bunk beds or spacious ablution facilities for our students; but rather a bare shearing shed floor for sleeping and dining quarters, and the allocation of just one shower for the week at the town’s recreation centre. For many of our city-slickers, this alone was an enormous challenge!
We then put them through their paces with a series of physical challenges including yabbying at the dam; climbing Bluff Knoll on a cold and rainy day; shearing, drenching and sorting sheep under the guidance of Mr Craig Beacham and his team; and completing the ‘solo’ in a paddock, during which the students spent an afternoon and night on their own in a tent. During the solo, the students wrote a letter to their Year 12 selves, which will be safely stored at the College and given back to them on their graduation night. The letter details their future hopes, dreams and goals and is intended to help the students live intentionally, rather than simply allowing life to happen to them.
The final big test for the week was a service challenge at Tambellup Primary School. This year, Mr Pleysier ran a woodwork activity in which our students paired up with younger students to make a toy car together. We also did rock painting with the younger children, and helped with classroom activities such as reading, making posters about the seasons, and sport. Some of our students assisted with various chores around the school campus, like cleaning up the shed, covering library books and pumping up inflatable cushions. Being a small country school, the staff often do not have much DOTT (duties other than teaching) time to do such tasks, so it was wonderful to be able to help them in these ways and hopefully ease a bit of pressure off them. On the final morning of camp, we returned to Tambellup Primary to cook breakfast for the school community before our return trip to Perth.
Now, if you’re having any concerns about how hard the students had to work on this camp, please be assured that there was plenty of fun to be had throughout the week! Special mention must be made of our inaugural Bush Dance held on the first night in the shearing shed. There is unfortunately very little photo evidence of the evening because Mr Vallance, our Caller for the event, refused to speak in his hilarious American accent unless EVERYONE participated, leaving no room for anyone use the ‘photography’ excuse. Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback afterwards, the Bush Dance looks set to become a new tradition on this camp. Another highlight was the stop-over at the Katanning All-Ages Playground. If you’re ever passing through Katanning, be sure to visit this legendary playground. It is always a hit, no matter your age!
Year 9 class of 2022 – WELL DONE on embracing everything we threw at you on this epic adventure. You have demonstrated and hopefully proved to yourselves that you can do hard things, and this is invaluable as your draw ever closer to adulthood.
Finally, a huge ‘thank you’ to the staff who spent the week away from their own families and worked tirelessly to make the camp the success that it was: Mr Pleysier, Mrs Hasluck, Mrs Loader, Mr Vallance and Mrs Groom.