New Era in Outdoor Education


Changes in classroom learning and recently-acquired land at Mt Alford are heralding in a new era in Outdoor Education at Brisbane Grammar School.

The new senior assessment system coming into effect for boys starting Year 11 in 2019 has prompted a rethink across the School, including the programs offered at the School's campus Pepperina Hill, o​n Lake Moogerah.

Teachers have responded to the ATAR scheme with an Effective Thinking Cultures (ETC) teaching framework that encourages critical thinking in the classroom. Outdoor Education staff are also embedding ETC in the adventure challenges and leadership exercises boys undertake in their annual outdoor education camps.

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President of the Moogerah Committee support group, Will Siganto, says many parents may not know the important role Moogerah plays in an overall BGS education.

“Before I got involved with Moogerah I asked, 'what is the point of Moogerah?' I suspect many parents don't realise one week's immersion each year can change a boy's perspective and galvanise his development as a BGS 'gentleman'".

As the father of three BGS graduates, and son Jim in Year 12 in 2019, Will has seen this personal development first hand.

“Why do high ropes, why hike and navigate, why camp out, why do your own cooking, why climb Mt Greville? Well, it's a week without technology, and hopefully a week of fun," Will said. “All of that develops tolerance and mateship, and helps boys tackle fears and anxieties."

From 2019, boys will face new challenges with the opening of new facilities at the School's Mt Alford and Pulpit Rock properties purchased in 2017.

Outdoor Education staff and the Moogerah Committee, made up of interested parents and Old Boys, cleared vegetation, demolished old shelters and improved access to the site at their annual working bee in August.

“The new Mt Alford campsite gives Year 10 boys a new challenge, and in 2019 Years 9 and 10 will have the chance to rock climb on Pulpit Rock, a volcanic plug on our new property. We're excited about the potential of this new asset," Will said.

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While the boys enjoy the outdoor activities, Moogerah is not a holiday camp. Director of Outdoor Education Mr Derek Jervis leads a team of specialist teachers who prepare detailed lesson plans to teach risk management and basic survival skills, such as navigation; and personal skills, such as leadership, problem-solving, effective communication, teamwork and living in a community.

Mr Jervis says an appreciation of nature and Indigenous culture is also a focus. “Outdoor Education provides the only avenue in education to reconnect with the natural world. When students are immersed in it, they learn to feel comfortable in nature both day and night, which leads to a deep and personal understanding and empathy for the environment," Mr Jervis said.

“We have permission from the local Aboriginal Ugarapul tribe to tell the boys some of their stories about the area.

“In the same way, a lesson about early European exploration comes to life when the boys are in the field and can imagine what it would have been like for early settlers."

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Date claimers for 2019:

Moogerah Community Bushwalk: Sunday 28 April

Moogerah Committee Working Bee: Saturday 17 August

Explore: Outdoor Education

Middle School boys in Years 5 are introduced to Outdoor Education with a day out at Moogerah as part of their orientation to their new school. Staff put on an exciting program of low ropes, rafting and orienteering, providing just a taste of the challenges to come. In Year 5, the focus is on having a go, and putting in effort.

In Year 6, boys spend one night in the dormitory at Pepperina Hill and have their first experience paddling on Lake Moogerah. The focus is on positivity, with staff emphasising the core values boys will develop as they progress through the program: endeavour, resilience, inclusiveness, respect for the environment, and respect for culture.