A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Senior School - Edition 5 - 2019


Westventure Camp 4 returned on Friday of Week 8 and will mark the end of the Westventure experience for the Year 10 students in 2019. Westventure is a key feature of a Westminster education and has been experienced by students for almost as long as Westminster has existed. The benefits to students in experiencing life outside of their comfort zone and working through problems with others to achieve a solution are invaluable and ones which today employers are looking for in prospective employees.

The encouragement that each student receives from their peers and the instructors allows them to achieve things that they would not have normally considered possible. A strength of our program is that all of the instructors are Old Scholars who have been through the Westventure experience and understand the philosophy and benefits of the program. The Head of Westventure, Mr Rob McLean (’99), an Old Scholar himself, ensures the program is delivered in a supportive yet challenging atmosphere to ensure that each student grows over the near two weeks.

This year I was fortunate to read comments from students about their experiences at Westventure. Having sought their permission, I share some of what they wrote.

This is from a student who came to Westminster this year:

If someone had told me a year ago that I was going to accomplish 2 x 17km runs, 3 x 5km runs, learn how to sail and kayak and learn how to cook with a trangia and camp in 2 weeks, I would had laughed at them in disbelief, and said that I could never achieve it because someone like myself wouldn’t be able to. I was a person who dealt with anxiety but here I am, after Westventure exhilarated with self-confidence because I’m so proud on how far I’ve become. The tasks weren’t just physically challenging but mentally too. I was always a person who tried to have a positive mindset but could never achieve it. However on camp I was always positive. I used to hate running to the point that I would take days off school so that I didn’t have to do PE or I would get so nervous and anxious that I would make myself sick. I was petrified of being last because I believed that everyone would laugh and judge, I was so wrong. Being last on camp only gave me more encouragement to keep going because I felt everyone’s support and love. Everyone running to the finish line with me was empowering and uplifting and is something that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for you and the instructors. You would congratulate the first runners only completing the challenges and then make sure they were back on the track until everyone had finished. This made everyone feel equal which is something I had never felt before when running.

The community feeling and positive environment at camp stems from you as mentors and instructors. When we arrived at camp we were all basically strangers. We are now a family. A family who shared countless laughs and memories. A family who supported each other when someone found something difficult. A family who believed so much in one another they made themselves believe to. You can’t be someone else for 12 days so being yourself is the best option. With the help of you and the instructors I was able to be my best self everyday and each day my confidence grew.

Westventure is something so special to me because it helped me grow as a person. I worked out the path I wanted to take in life. I worked out who my friends are and aren’t. I worked out that I only need the simple things in life, nothing superficial. I understood others better because I knew their struggles and feelings. Westventure gave me life skills and values that I can apply to everyday life to better myself and the world. Westventure made the impossible, possible. Thank you so much for the experience, I am so grateful for it.

The following words are written to Rob McLean from another Year 10 student:

Hello there,
I’m sending this email as a thank you for the experience at Westventure. It was truly amazing - words can’t describe it. This camp has affected me in so many ways and I am so grateful. Before Westventure (as you may know), I was quite stuck, so to say. But now, I finally feel happy - I’ve found happiness again (which I’ve struggled to feel lately... pretty happy about that). This camp has brought out the best in me, and I have achieved things I never thought I ever could. It has given me more confidence, and has shown me that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it. So thank you, thank you for your patience and understanding, thank you for adjusting to my needs, and thank you for being such a great mentor. You and the instructors have definitely inspired me and many other students. I will forever be grateful for this experience. Please thank Mooney and the other instructors for all their support and understanding. It couldn’t have been any more perfect. This experience was simply life changing.

Such heartfelt feedback reinforces the importance Westventure and I’m sure is rewarding for Rob and the team of instructors. The end of Camp 4 also marked the last for Rob McLean as coordinator of Westventure – a position he has held for 11 years. Rob has been involved in 62 Westventure camps as either instructor or coordinator. His supportive yet challenging approach has encouraged students to achieve more than they thought possible and has been a key platform on which the program is built. I know the words of the above two students are representative of the many students who have experienced Westventure during Rob’s time. Rob will remain on staff as a teacher and will now be able to spend more time with his family.

I thank Rob for the time, expertise and emotion he has invested in Westventure over the years to ensure it is a program that allows students to take risks and grow as individuals and begin to celebrate the diversity that exists within a group of year 10 students.

This is a poem about Westventure from a student:

The Westventure Ride

Westventure is like a rollercoaster.
It has it highlights and lowlights.
It has it smooth path and rocky path.
It can go super fast and it can go super slow.
It can show your strengths and it can show your weaknesses.
The headspace that you enter, determines your journey.
Enter with positivity, despite your negativity.
What you put in, is what you get out.
Most importantly exit with a smile.

Alison Ave Closure Monday 8 April

Alison Ave will be closed to vehicles on Monday 8 April from 7.00 am to 4.00 pm, due to SA Power Networks having to prepare for the installation of a new transformer needed for the Inquiry and Innovation Hub. The closure will occur just outside Gate 3a on Alison Ave, meaning signed detours will be set up to take northbound traffic around the roundabout into Shetland Ave to Oakleigh Ave and back along Orkney Ave to rejoin Alison Ave. The reverse applies to southbound traffic. Gates 1, 2 (Main) and 4 are unaffected and will remain open as usual. For students coming by foot or bike from south of the roundabout along Alison Ave, we expect the western footpath to be closed, at least. Entering and exiting the School grounds through Gate 4 would be the best option.

End of Term

The end of term is an opportunity for students to measure their performance with the goals they set themselves at the beginning of the year. I would encourage all students to reflect on their academic performance this term and if you have not achieved your goals seek advice and guidance from your teachers.

This term has been a busy one for the Houses with the Swimming and Athletics Carnivals along with a variety of welcome functions for new and existing families. I would like to thank all of the House Heads and student leaders for making these activities successful occasions. The Year 8 students have fitted in very well and I have been impressed by their friendly and cheerful manner.

I wish all Senior School students and their families a relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

David Wallage
Head of Senior School