There are some experiences I think every child should have growing up. Jumping off a rope swing, shooting a slingshot, riding a horse, cooking marshmallows on an open fire, sleeping in a tent, catching a yabby, building a cubbyhouse. The trouble is most of these activities involve some risk, and for a lot of today’s parents, the risks seem too great. As a result, less and less children get these experiences growing up.

A recent study by La Trobe University (Beyond the bubble-wrap) which looked at understanding parent’s fears in allowing their children to play and travel independently, supported the idea that being an overprotecting parent (well-intentioned though it can be) impacts negatively on a child’s overall development. Some perceived risky activities allow children to develop essential autonomous skills and learn some basic life skills also.

Independent play outdoors, and travel to and from school (age appropriate) provides children so much mental and physical health. They learn evaluative skills, how to appropriately react and best negotiate, become alert to danger, develop decision making skills, along with a greater resilience, confidence, vigilance, and capability.

Yes…at times they will get hurt (mostly scratched, bruised, or sometimes even broken), but they learn to deal with and manage the physical and emotional elements involved with those experiences along the way. I believe the best learning occurs ‘in’ and ‘through’. Children who are ‘bubble-wrapped’ miss out on this learning. Camps are such a perfect vehicle for the ‘in’ and ‘through’ to occur. Our Year Eights are embarking on their camp today and get the chance to have some of the experiences mentioned earlier in a very safe and controlled environment.

Next week our Year Elevens head off as well to Coolum and Elanda Point. Perhaps there will be some students reliving or maybe living out for the first time some of those exciting childhood experiences mentioned earlier. Important messages around character development and becoming positive contributors to their worlds will also be reinforced, to ensure year level camps remain a wholistic experience for all Mueller’s students.

Ben Stiller

Term 2 – Week 2 News