The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

From the Head of Senior School

Year 9 Rottnest Camp

I was fortunate enough to spend some time at the Year 9 Rottnest camp last week. What a wonderful experience! Observing 200 boys living and working together over the week and experiencing the wonders that Rottnest Island has to offer was a great pleasure. So why do we do it? What are the benefits?

Here are just a few thoughts:

1. It builds community

Camps such as this are all about community. From the House groups traveling together on the ferry, to the groups sharing accommodation, to the activities they rotate through, students live and work in teams that they would not necessarily form on their own. Watching them enjoy unstructured play in-between the planned activities reinforces the important skill of socialisation. We consistently hear from kids about making new friends at camps and in other such situations, many of whom they've seen at school for years without knowing personally. Camps also allows our staff and House Heads to see the boys in a different light. What we learn about your boys out of the classroom is just as, if not more, important as what we learn about them in the classroom.

2. It increases connection

Watching a group of Year 9 boys set-up up the Dining Hall and clean-up afterwards is an interesting experience. They get into the details about everything - silverware setting, enough plates, napkins. Working in teams, the boys develop a greater connection to their House and the College. Working as Scotch College boys to complete community service activities on Rottnest Island gives them a connection; knowing previous year groups have done this as a part of their Rottnest experience. Completing a service aspect on camp reinforces what is discussed at Assembly and in class and is at the core of the College's values.

3. It builds culture

Cultures share a common language, set of values, purpose and a connection to place as a fundamental expression of who they are. All of these things develop for a group of students in just four short days. The night-time activities require the students to create, share, play, reflect and communicate, all of which takes place without technology and aims to help them learn more about themselves and each other. The camp establishes expectations and standards as all boys share in the same experience. The standards expected as they move around the island, interact with the public and work together in the different activities gives them an understanding of what is expected of a Scotch boy.

4. It develops positive feelings and memories around school and the outdoors

The enjoyment of the Year 9 Rottnest camp and the memories developed stay with the boys for years to come. It bonds the boys as a year group and within their House groups. It also develops strong bonds with their House Head and the other staff who are involved in the activities over the four days. Just as staff have the opportunity to see the boys in a different light, the boys see the staff in a different environment, strengthening the bonds between them. Of course, the camp itself allows some boys the opportunity to experience an environment they may not usually get to see. For many it is the beginning of these experiences, the first time they have dived on a wreck, learned about the history of the island and maybe stepped out of their comfort zone.

There is so much to appreciate about the Year 9 Rottnest camp experience. I would like to thank the staff who attended and gave so much of themselves over the four days. Their commitment was simply outstanding. I would like to thank and acknowledge the boys for the way they conducted themselves and for the enthusiasm they showed towards the programmes and the opportunities offered.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School