Scouts challenge themselves at Summer Adventure Camp
Published Fri 09 Feb 2024
Young people from across NSW, South Australia and the ACT earned qualifications while having a blast at the Scouts NSW Summer Adventure Camp.
From radios, horse riding, bushwalking, river crossings, and mountain biking to abseiling, climbing, canoeing and a white-water kayak adventure and pioneering, there were heaps of activities for the 48 youth participants who attended the seven-day program at Camp Cottermouth in the ACT.
Scouts, Venturer Scouts and Rover Scouts (aged 14-26), supported by 27 adult members, attended the achievement-focused camp, which was designed to deliver experiences and accelerate qualifications across multiple disciplines.
This included progressions towards Outdoor Adventure Skills or Special Interest Areas as part of the Scout Youth Program achievement pathway.
Developing skills for life
Scouts NSW Assistant Chief Commissioner Adventure Kenton Jurgs said participants worked on external qualifications through the Scouts Australia Institute of Training – a Registered Training Organisation.
“25 participants achieved a Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation and 18 will continue to work through the assessment process for a Certificate III in Outdoor Leadership, which is great,” he said.
“We used an approach based on observation to determine what the participants were capable of. It’s a different form to workbooks and made it more accessible for people. We knew we had people who had learning challenges and wouldn’t have the linguistic capability to fill in a workbook. Basing it on observation was quite successful and part of the reason we were able to achieve what we did this week.”
Kenton said the qualifications were of particular benefit to the Venturer Scouts.
“One of the reasons why we pushed the Cert II, especially for 15- to 18-year-olds, is some youth members might want to focus on their Year 12 studies, focus on doing the best they can, and obtaining a Cert II means they can do fewer units of study, especially in Year 11, so they can place greater focus on specific subjects.
“Others might go down a vocation path, so having an Outdoor Recreation Certification can be a pathway for those people and allow them to build that into a career.”
From the moment a person joins Scouts, whether as a youth or adult member, they learn valuable skills that any workplace or employer would be looking for. Learning to plan, organise, coordinate or communicate, and even organising regional, state, national or international activities; these project management skills are extremely beneficial.
State Commissioner – Vocational Education and Training Sallyanne Luxton said Scouts recognise prior learning, providing support to help gather the necessary evidence.
“When they’ve been doing it all through their Scouting journey, most of them generally have a portfolio of their arts, they’ll have logbooks for their adventurous activities, they log everything towards their peak awards, so there are various ways they can gather evidence,” she said.
“Summer Adventure Camp has been a lot more structured in terms of being able to gain a qualification. We’ve got a lot of observation checklists that we’ve created for this camp. There’s a range of what methods we can take.
“We’re not limited to what their Scouting journey is either. If they’ve been doing other things outside Scouts, both youth and adult members, we can take all that into account as well through recognition of prior learning assessment.”
Paddling towards success
Violet Levett, of 1st Glossodia Scout Group, achieved her Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation through the white-water paddling experience offered at the camp.
The 15-year-old, who has only been paddling since October 2023, enjoyed the challenge offered by the camp.
“I really wanted to get more experience in white-water because I haven’t had too much experience yet. I’m trying to take every opportunity I can and learn more skills and really cover most things I can,” she said.
“I’m pretty stoked about achieving my Certificate II. I wasn’t sure if I was quite going to be able to get it because of my lack of experience, but I’m surprised and I’m happy with how much I’ve progressed.
“Personally, I really enjoyed it because I’ve got dyslexia and the online learning was super simple and super easy to comprehend. There was a video and you just had to follow it and it was pretty easy. The majority of it was just showing what you can do, which was great.
“My favourite part of the camp was definitely doing the white-water with people that actually encouraged me to get into the sport and it was super fun.
"This camp was definitely one of the best camps I’ve been on. I just had fun the whole time.”
The camp also helped members develop the necessary skills towards being appointed as a Scouts Assistant Guide or Guide in their chosen discipline.
Fun and challenges combined
Participants started the camp together with a day walk to the historic Orroral Valley Tracking Station, followed by a day enjoying two minor disciplines, which included horse riding, river crossing (including water rescue), abseiling, climbing, canoeing and radio skills. On day three, the bigger adventure began, with participants splitting into one of three major disciplines – bushwalking, mountain biking and white-water kayaking – with nights spent under canvas for all disciplines.
“We had a great time and the participants had a great time,” Kenton said.
“We stretched people; people had the opportunity to do things which they might not ordinarily have had the opportunity to do. It was right outside their comfort zone. They achieved what they wanted to achieve and more, facing their fears and building resilience along the way.
“One of the best things for me was at the end of the day seeing the smiles on people’s faces, combined with the tiredness because they worked really hard as the activities were quite strenuous. Hearing the laughter around the dinner table was great.
"That was the thing that makes it for me on these camps – watching people push themselves and come out the other end happy.”
Leadership Through Adventure Fund
Three participants attended the camp thanks to funding through the Dick and Pip Smith Leadership Through Adventure Fund (LTAF).
Sidney Dixon, of 1st Cherrybrook Scout Group, and Mitchell and Samual Haley from Scouts SA were successful recipients in Round 4 of the grant, which provides financial support and encourages youth members to set greater challenges and goals when planning their adventures.
Sidney attended the camp last year with a focus on white-water paddling and returned this year to try something new, opting into bushwalking.
“I found last year I learned a lot of valuable skills and things I could use in everyday life,” she said.
“Getting my Certificate II was one of the many reasons why it was a great place to come and this year I could achieve further in a Certificate III and Assistant Guide, which was always a formidable goal.
“I also really wanted to connect with my peers because I found out last year, I sort of stuck to one group and I didn’t reach out and make more friendships. I feel like I have achieved that. I have connected with more of the Scouts and I’ve interacted more with Leaders. It’s been a great improvement socially this year than it was last year.”
Mitchell said the grant allowed him to come on the camp straight from Venture24, a Scouting event based in Victoria.
“I wanted to come because in South Australia we don’t have a lot of the activities – we don’t have white-water kayaking as an option that we can do freely,” he said.
“I was hoping to achieve some Outdoor Adventure Skills stages, but also my Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation, which I did. As well as learning white-water kayaking, I have also learnt how different skills can be taught and how they impact what’s happening.”
Lincoln Turnell, of 2nd Armidale Scout Group, completed his Certificate II using a different pathway and was completing his Certificate III in Outdoor Leadership at Summer Adventure Camp to help him when he goes to university.
“The Cert III gives me an ability to be able to be employed by guide companies, helping me make a living while I study,” he said.
“When I registered for the camp, I wanted to improve my mountain biking skills, because it’s always just been YouTube and me trying to figure stuff out, so I’ve been able to have someone to guide me through better skills. I also wanted to try to get a better understanding of what the Cert II and III actually involve and what I need to get them. Also, about the Cert III, trying to figure out if it’s worth going for that, which I’ve found out it is.
“The best part of the camp has to be when we were mountain biking at Stromlo. I’ve never had such a big mountain biking park at my disposal.
"I’ve had so much fun, it’s definitely going to be in my top favourite camps.”
The camp was not just fun for the youth members – the Leaders who attended also had a lot of fun and had the opportunity to extend themselves.
For Sharon Koster, Group Leader of 1st Mittagong Scout Group, she was excited about the opportunity to do horse riding as part of a Scout camp. As an experienced rider, who started in primary school, she enjoyed the unique experience offered.
“Instead of going around an arena or just following the horse ahead, we do things like horseback archery, to teach you the disconnection between upper and lower body. It’s amazing,” she said.
“By becoming a Guide, I personally achieve two things – one, it gives me a great sense of achievement. I love the fact that I’m continuing to learn and grow and push my comfort zone and the other, and probably the most important thing that I get out of it, is mentoring our youth to develop their own skills.”
Next big adventure
With Summer Adventure Camp over, attention turns to the next major adventurous activity event, the NSW State Vertical School in Bungonia National Park from April 20 to 25.