The Outdoor Education programme of Sophia Mundi is a very important and integral part of the school’s developmental picture of education. Being an inner city school, it is very important we offer children contact with the natural forces of the Australian bush and the chance to develop their own feelings for the wild. Far from an adjunct to their academic education, Outdoor Education is a core feature in the Sophia Mundi student’s school experience.
The programme begins in Class 3 with a short, simple and comfortable camp close to Melbourne. In the coming years the students are challenged by more distant and longer trips. In the primary classes the children experience two camps each year, one being strongly linked to the classroom curriculum and the other to the outdoor education curriculum. When the child enters the middle school they take on extra responsibilities by preparing and cooking their own meals. They are challenged by hikes and land management responsibilities. The camps in the middle school will often revisit places that the child has been to in their primary years. The children experience these areas with new perspectives and engage different faculties. It is a powerful way of stimulating reflection, self-awareness and a gracious love of the environment. As with other elements of the curriculum, we believe that care for the natural environment begins with love for it.
By the time a child enters adolescence and Class 9 they have already experienced journeying through different landscapes, breathing in the beauty of the natural world, observing and experiencing its many rhythms. During this pivotal year in their development as human beings they experience independence and responsibility in the Australian bush over seven trips, for a cumulative total of 35 days. Outdoors Education is very much the centre of the class 9 curriculum and other subjects work in harmony with this (science, art and literature lessons for example have a strong focus on land and nature). The class 10 camps (in conjunction with the overseas exchange programme) continue this process of transformation and discovery. In this key moment of their lives, stepping across from childhood into adulthood, the students are met by the world itself. Here they are challenged, they reflect and they begin to form the resolve and inner focus to meet their goals and dreams.