Sunday, 22 September, 2019 - 12:30
Students enjoying a school excursion

School excursions, activities and camps are an important stepping stone for children to stretch their wings and explore and learn beyond their home, school and neighborhood.

The ‘right’ activity can bring the shy child out of their shell, encourage the reluctant child to try something new, and inspire the confident child to reach even higher.

School trips can literally change a child’s world for the better.

10 reasons for encouraging school excursions, activities and camps are:

1. A chance to learn about the impact of our carbon footprint

Today’s teachers are front line warriors in the fight to save the environment. It is from them that many students first learn about global warming, endangered species and how the relentless global push for increased production impacts on urban and natural environments around the world.

School excursions, school activities and school camps provide an ideal outdoor classroom setting for students to learn more about reducing their carbon footprint – and put in action the environmental issues they have learnt in the classroom, in a fun and interactive way.

The unique biodiversity of the surrounding physical environment can also help students learn about healthy environmental habitats, how all things are connected within an ecosystem, and the impact of human beings in maintaining a healthy environmental balance.

2. A chance for students to learn about our indigenous history

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and civilisation are a critical element of the story of Australia – and with a history dating back at least 65,000 years, it is a rich and diverse culture.

The earliest Aboriginal societies established complex religions, engaged in long-distance trade, produced magnificent, developed sustainable ways of living, undertook significant engineering feats and created one of the most unique ‘civilisations’ in the world.

Learning about indigenous history and culture encourages students to develop respect for diversity, empathy, engagement and an understanding of cultural difference. 

3. Learning to be sun safe

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. In fact, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they turn 70.So being SunSmart is a vital element of an Aussie school kids’ life.

Being sun safe is one of those habits that if learnt young, can benefit children for the rest of their lives. School excursions, school activities and school camps offer an opportunity to start teaching children the SunSmart message.

Helping kids develop an everyday routine of slip, slop, slap, seek, and slide can save lives in the long run.

4. Taming negative behaviour

Behaviour management on camp is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand you want to ensure camp is a happy and positive experience for all involved. On the other hand, for the safety and wellbeing of all students, you need to ensure that camp rules are followed and that students listen and adhere to your directions.

The relaxed and informal atmosphere of camp is an ideal environment for looking at the bigger picture of student behaviour, and helping kids to develop improved social skills and emotional intelligence. The key is to help children understand their behaviour and emotions – and their effect on others.

Teachers and caregivers can help students understand and acknowledge the reasons behind negative behaviours and work with them to develop more socially acceptable ways to interact.

5. Inter school co-curricular activities help students develop valuable interpersonal skills

Inter school co-curricular activities give students a greater sense of belonging and help motivate them in their sporting, performing arts and academic achievements.

But those initial few minutes, when students pile off the bus and stand around waiting for their event to start can be, well, awkward. Icebreaker activities on camps and school excursions are designed to fast track the meeting process and get students talking and feeling more comfortable with each other – so that once the core activities of the day are ready to roll, everyone is pumped and ready to participate.

Learning the ‘break the ice’ stands students in good stead as they navigate the social, professional and emotional aspects of young adulthood.

6. STEM skills in action

School excursions, school activities and school camps can be fertile ground for exploring and developing Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) skills.

Nature provides the perfect ‘outdoor laboratory.’ Look above at night and you might spot the ‘Saucepan’ constellation. Listen closely and you could hear a kookaburra laughing. Crush a handful of pine needles and inhale the fresh scent. Sit around a campfire and watch the crackle of embers.

Time off the beaten track is ideal for exploring STEM projects. All it takes is a bit of forward planning, a handful of ideas, and some young fertile minds to turn your school camp or school excursion into an outdoor ‘laboratory’.

7. School trips encourage desirable behaviours

Camp is a great leveller. It brings shy children out of their shell, encourages stronger students to support those less strong, and inspires kids of all shapes, size and gender to challenge themselves mentally, physically and emotionally.

But all that excitement and challenge – coupled with a lack of sleep, tired bodies and extended socialising with little opportunity for ‘quiet time’ - can also see some less desirable behaviours come to the fore. It’s not uncommon to see the shy student blossom to the point of becoming cheeky, the lazy child become motivated to the point of being overly boisterous or the challenging child become downright disrespectful or difficult to deal with.

Keeping a sense of order and discipline is critical to your camp’s success – not only from a safety and wellbeing perspective, but also to ensure that every student enjoys their camp experience. It could also be the make or break between an enjoyable experience for you!

With a few strategies that can be adapted from the classroom, you can keep a lid on poor behaviour and encourage more positive outcomes.

8. Learning to be resilient

Overnight school camps are an important stepping-stone for children to stretch their wings and explore and learn beyond their home, school and neighborhood. But it’s normal for children to feel a little anxious before camp – particularly if it’s their first time away from home.

Camp – particularly a child’s first camp – is an important rite of passage. However, excitement can soon give way to anxious thoughts as children contemplate a few days away from home.

Who will they share a dormitory or tent with? What happens if they don’t get teamed with their ‘bestie’? Can they ring home if they feel homesick? Will they like the food on offer? It’s not surprising, then, that even the most confident of children may experience a pang of separation anxiety as camp day draws nearer.

However, with a little bit of preparation teachers and parents can help children prepare for camp, to give them a greater chance of settling in quickly and enjoying the camp experience.

9. Spreading your wings – the chance to experience international travel

Increasingly, schools are offering international excursions as part of their wider academic and co-curricular program. Planning for an overseas trip takes time and considerable effort, but the rewards can be broad and far-reaching for both students and educators.

The number of students travelling to overseas destinations on excursion has risen significantly in recent years. The growth is fuelled by the knowledge that participation in overseas excursions enables students – and their educators – to develop knowledge, behaviours and skills that allow them to become more informed and responsible global citizens.

The benefits of overseas travel and international excursions are well documented: it gives students greater knowledge and interest in global issues and cultures, allowing them to move beyond stereotypical views and attitudes; it opens their eyes and senses to the wider world; increases their proficiency in the use of another language; and gives them a deeper understanding of their own culture.

10. Learning about career opportunities

Choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions students will ever make.

Career exploration activities help students learn more about themselves – their interests and their academic, social and physical strengths and weaknesses. In turn, this gives students a clearer of who they are, and helps them narrow down potential career choices.

Career planning excursions are a vital part of the career exploration jigsaw. They allow students to see and interact first-hand with professionals in a wide range of career fields, ask questions and observe. They also provide an opportunity to introduce students to unfamiliar occupations and get a taste of valuable hands-on experience.