03 June 2021

Year 8 Camps

Article by Ms Deb Hodge

Year 8 Camps

After several false starts, we successfully enjoyed a wonderful camp experience at Mt Evelyn YMCA during Week 2 and 5 of this Term. It was an idyllic setting with no shops in sight but instead surrounded by beautiful bush and the sounds of native birds to wake us each morning. Upon rising, many gravitated to the welcoming fire to warm themselves up before they heard the cow-bell to line up for breakfast. This was a huge affair with both continental and a cooked breakfast on offer and we were left feeling so full after the bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes or hash browns, as well as cereal, yogurt, fruit or toast.

Then it was off for a full day of activities, ranging from high ropes and the giant swing to bike riding and damper cooking. One favourite was “Initiatives” where a problem was given and the team had to solve it using teamwork, ingenuity and lateral thinking. This certainly tested a few but there many achievements too. The crate stack, likewise, was about teamwork and supporting your peer whilst he/she climbed atop crates without tipping them over. Luckily there were no unfortunate spills as the climber was securely harnessed and protected by the YMCA staff. Some hit the bull’s eye in archery and many budding architects were discovered with the hut building, where the real test of the structure’s viability was whether it could survive the bucket of water being tipped over the roof to see if the builders inside the hut got wet. That was a good incentive to have no holes and a thick layer as the roof.

The first night we had a formal evening where students dressed in outfits suitable for 5-star dining and there were some magnificent displays of jewels, suits, gowns and a few unusual bohemian creations. Students were invited to mingle with new people and there were ‘conversation starters’ to help prompt these conversations. On the second night, there was a movie night which was a welcome, relaxing way to unwind and reflect gratefully on the time together and the new insights gained. Staff gave out prizes to those who’d pushed themselves well outside their comfort zone, showed incredible resilience or courage, or gently encouraged a peer when he/she may have had some doubts. There were also acknowledgements to some who took on more than expected and did extra in the kitchen and clean-up, like emptying huge dishwashers or vacuuming. It all made for a harmonious and easy camp when students pitched in and generously supported staff in readying the dinner room for each meal or went to sleep when asked.

Congratulations to the students for being actively involved in all that was on offer and for showing the YMCA staff how respectful and grateful we were for accommodating us on such short notice, as well as devising a program that gave everyone a chance to test their limits of endurance ( & for some, fear of heights) and have fun! We were sad to leave this incredibly beautiful place and the outstanding YMCA staff who cared for us. 

Huge thanks also to the Saint Ignatius College staff who took on the responsibility of supervising and nurturing 125 students whilst leaving their own families behind for three days. Your support was invaluable to the camp’s success! As we left the Dandenongs behind after our three days there, we took away many enjoyable and lifelong memories that cemented our common Ignatian values of leadership, service, inclusivity and compassion. Well done to all involved!

Deborah Hodge  Year Level Coordinator: Year 8

Below are some recollections from the Ignatian leaders:

I really enjoyed YMCA at Mt Evelyn. The setting was great, the activities were really enjoyable and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. The camp staff were amazing and you could really tell how much they loved their job. They made sure we made the most of our camp experience. The camp experience was well organised and structured; teachers made sure we could have some time with friends outside of our camp groups which I know a lot of us really appreciated. The camp also gave me an opportunity to further develop friendships made at school. (Georgia Lyons, 8 Realino)

The camp setting was very nice; everything was easy to find and straight-forward to get to. The group I was in loved the activities; all of them were fun and engaging. They gave all of us a good challenge but we learnt lots of new things and made new connections with people we hadn't talked to before. The YMCA staff were friendly and welcoming and the program was very good. (Matilda Hughes, 8 Castillo)

We really were amazed when the bus pulled up in this driveway surrounded by all this amazing wildlife and greenery. The air was crisp and cool; you could hear all the birds chirping and the river trickling and the fire crackling. When we finally started our activities, the YMCA leaders were so nice and helped us to become confident and enjoy our experience. All the activities gave us a challenge and were all really fun but our favourite activities were the giant swing and archery. This camp also gave us a chance to meet other peers and build a stronger bond with our homeroom. We would like to say thanks to the YMCA staff and the teachers for allowing us to experience this. (Jacob Irwin & Steph Reynolds, 8 Campion)

The Year 8 camp was an absolute blast with it being based at the base of the Dandenong Ranges where nature and wildlife were thriving. I liked the serenity of it. The activities were amazing; there was the giant swing, crate stack, initiatives, damper cooking, hut building and bike ed, all of which were so much fun. The YMCA staff were fantastic too with how they ran the camp and managed us. They were super friendly and we were so stoked to have them there. (Ethan Hughes & Will Cunningham, 8 Montserrat)

I thought that the nature of this camp gave an instant feeling that this would be a few days outdoors. Surrounding the camps were beautiful trees and plants filled with amazing birds. There wasn’t a time in the day where you couldn’t hear these birds chirping. The best activities were the crate stack and the high ropes; these activities required teamwork and trust. The crate stack needed the team to be organising what crates should be passed up and at what time. They also had to stabilise the crates so that the person climbing could feel safe. The high ropes included 3 members holding the rope along with the instructor; this required a huge amount of trust between the person doing the high ropes and the people controlling the rope that stops you from falling. Fortunately, everyone was very responsible here. The YMCA staff were amazing, all very encouraging and welcoming to all students and teachers. They organised a well-thought out couple of days. We had a perfect schedule giving us kids time to get ready, eat, have some free time and complete all of the activities. Overall the camp was terrific - a great place to conquer your fear of heights! (Harriette O’Keefe,  8 Daniel)

I liked how the camp was in the middle of nowhere and where every part of the day you could hear the birds and other animals walking or making appearances. It was a spacious place where you could have fun with your friends. Some of the best parts were the activities. I thought that this experience made a really big difference at the camp. They had heaps of activities that exhausted you mentally and made you want to fall asleep after a full, long day. It was so good I didn’t want the days to end. Something that I most loved about the camp was forming more friendships with people; this made me feel more included with people I don’t normally hang out with at school. I made heaps of friends in my group, boys and girls, and others who weren’t in a group with me. I thought that the YMCA staff did a fantastic job is providing us with a good camp that none of us will forget. This made all of us feel more connected and welcomed into trying new things and or just having a go. (Mikayla Glibo, 8 Aikenhead)

It was good to finally go on our camp to Mt Evelyn in the Dandenong Ranges. The camp was set in the middle of a valley with tall gum trees surrounding it. There were two really friendly Kookaburras that liked to sit near us each day. The highlights included the high rope course, bush cooking and making new friends. (Isaac Naus, 8 Owen)