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Returning to Birrigai

04 Nov 2020

Returning to Birrigai

Birrigai Outdoor School Principal Peter Kent and his team are thrilled to invite schools back for overnight camps in Term 4 due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. In a typical school year Birrigai hosts around 80 school camps, catering for over 12,000 students however due to the impact of the Orroral Valley bushfire earlier in the year, and COVID-19 in recent months, camps were not permitted to go ahead.

“Having a school camp at Birrigai has been a much-loved rite of passage for a large number of the ACT community for 40 years. It is very pleasing to know that the current generation of ACT school children won’t miss out.  They will be able to be inspired and build their own fond memories as they challenge themselves, learn, and have fun in the wonderful natural environment that is Birrigai,” Peter said.

Students from Miles Franklin Primary School will attend their annual Birrigai camp this week. This being only the third camp at Birrigai in 2020 and the first since March 11. Miles Franklin students will engage in a range of activities to increase cultural understanding, including experiences with a focus on First Nations knowledge and understandings such as bushwalks, to learn about the traditional use of some plants on the Birrigai site. Additional activities include building campfires and baking damper, environmental education and adventurous high ropes activities.

Despite this year’s restrictions on overnight camps the Birrigai team continued to design and publish online lesson plans for students through the Directorate’s Home Learning site. Lessons encouraged students to spend time outside and take advantage of parks and gardens to learn about nature and the environment. The Birrigai team also provided support for the safe and supervised site at Charles Weston School during the remote learning period. When students returned to their classrooms the Birrigai team successfully ran a series of incursions to bring the joy of camping to the schoolyard.

“It was a hectic time. Every day we had to collect up our resources in trailers to travel out to the schools. We even had portable campfires to cook damper over. It was great fun!” Peter said.

Peter and his team have learned a lot from their experience during 2020, not the least of which is their own resilience and adaptability in the face of change. In a challenging year, where many of the milestones students look forward to have been disrupted, it’s testament to the commitment of the Birrigai team that they could continue to deliver a beloved program - even if it did look a little different!