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Lessons in leadership, resilience, teamwork and self-discovery
The capacity to think, wonder, question and appreciate that learning is not always dependent on being in a classroom, is behind the success of the Outdoor Education program at Westminster School.
Each year, hundreds of Westminster students take part in the School’s comprehensive Outdoor Education program, undertaking valuable lessons in leadership, resilience, teamwork, and self-discovery.
Established more than 30 years ago, Westminster’s Outdoor Education program involves students from Years 8 to 12. The School also offers an annual traineeship to one school leaver who has undertaken the subject as part of their Year 12 studies.
Westminster has the largest South Australian program for the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, with over 300 students taking part each year. Of these students, more than ten achieve the highly prestigious Gold Award.
Westminster School offers Outdoor Education as an elective subject in Years 11 and 12. The subject is extremely popular, and engages students in developing self-reliant expedition skills in activities as far ranging as scuba diving, bushwalking, rock-climbing, sea kayaking, and cross-country skiing. Outdoor Education also develops a greater awareness of risk management procedures and sensible risk taking behaviour.
Inherent in their studies is developing an affinity with the outdoor environment, and appreciating the need to develop and implement sustainable management practices to improve our ecological footprint.
The School also incorporates nationally accredited training courses into its Outdoor Education curriculum, to assist students wanting to seek outdoor leadership qualifications upon completion of their schooling, with Stage 2 students completing their TAFE Cert II in Outdoor Recreation.
The highlight of Outdoor Education studies at Westminster School undoubtedly is its renowned and successful Westventure program.
Following annual camps to Kuitpo Forest and the South Coast Walking Track in Years 8 and 9, every Year 10 student attends the two-week Westventure program at the School’s 68-hectare outdoor education site at Point Sturt on the lower Murray River.
Westventure focuses on personal, group, and environmental development, through adventurous and challenging activities including sailing, canoeing, orienteering, and camping.
Students are separated from their familiar urban comfort zones and learn how to cope in the outdoors without modern day luxuries and technological gadgets.
Westventure fosters a greater awareness in students of their surroundings, other students and themselves. It encourages students to “test their boundaries”, learning that success depends on teamwork and the ability to think first of the welfare of the group.
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award is a challenging, practical programme offered all over the world to young people aged 14-25 years. Participation in and attainment of the Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards can complement both academic and non-academic school activities. The central aim of the Scheme, which is recognised internationally, is to encourage young people to use their leisure time in a meaningful and worthwhile manner.
To gain an award, a young person must undertake an activity in all of the following areas for each award: Community Service, Skills/Interest/Hobby, Physical Recreation, Expeditions, and a Residential Project (Gold award only). At Westminster, students are given the opportunity to travel overseas to Nepal, Tasmania, and New Zealand to take part in adventurous activities including bushwalking, white water rafting, climbing, and kayaking.
Westminster School has been offering access to the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award program since 1983, and participation in the scheme has now grown to a point where we have the largest program in Australia, with over 350 current students involved. Participation in our co-curricular program provides ample opportunities to fulfil many of the requirements for the award.
Coordinating the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Program at Westminster School is Mr Gordon Begg (Head of Outdoor Education).