The power of camps

7 May 2014

IMG_1324Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the Year 4 Camp. The boys had a great time and it was a wonderful experience for them all. I love attending school camps and especially love the fact that here at MBBC we have a focus on outdoor education. I think this is a very valuable aspect of our school experience. Let me explain why.

Camps are a wonderful chance for the boys to develop independence and resilience. They have the opportunity to become a risk-taker and know the success of overcoming difficulties and/or fears in life. They also develop very close relations with many of their class members that simply would not happen in a classroom.

It is vitally important for young men to learn independence and not be reliant on mum and dad simply doing everything for them. Camps help them to develop these skills in a structured way as they have to step up and take some responsibility for themselves. As the boys get older let them pack their own bags and then they have to deal with the consequences of forgetting something.

They learn resilience as they have to face being away from home for a period of time. They learn to cope with new settings and structures. They might even have to sleep in a tent or cook their own food. They have to separate themselves from the comfort of home (computers, TV, a fridge to raid and maybe even a soft bed) for a period of time. They have to try new foods. These are all things that help young men to develop some resilience and learn how to cope with some very slight adversity or challenges. After all we all know that as they grow they will learn that life is full of adversity, change and challenges. We need to help prepare them to face and deal with these issues as they arise and one of the best ways is by putting them out of their comfort zone in a safe structured way.

They learn how to challenge themselves and take some risks. Many of our outdoor camps involve activities that challenge the boys to push past their fears. They might be going on a high ropes course or a giant swing, or having to hike a distance lugging a heavy backpack. I have seen so many students who were a bit scared and have pushed past that and completed tasks that they did not think they could. The sense of achievement and pride in those moments are golden.

Finally one of the biggest positives about camps is that they bring the boys together away from the usual structures and clichés of school. The boys get to know each other much better, they develop bonds and friendships that will carry them through the remainder of their schooling years. On top of that they come back to school with a strong shared experience. For boys who do not attend camp this can have a big impact on their socialisation within the year level or class group. Camp brings the boys together in a way that very little else can so this makes camps vitally important if the boy is new to the school.

The Outdoor education set in place here at MBBC runs from Prep all the way through to the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme in the Senior Years. May I gently encourage you to always insist that your boy attends their camps as they come up. We do not do our children any real favours if we baby them. In fact all we do is really negatively impact them in these vital areas of growth (independence, resilience and friendship groups) as they travel towards becoming a man. So let’s help our boys to become men and please support the outdoor education program at MBBC by talking it up as well as making sure our boys are involved.

As the school Chaplain my role is to support and serve all the members of the college community. So if I can be of assistance to you or your family or if you ever wish to give me any comments or feedback on these ‘Chaplain’s Corner’ articles then please email me on:


Shane McCarthy

School Chaplain

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