Ergh! I hear you cry! To be honest I feel the same way about most excursions and the food that's served. It's crap and all the staff try and sneak off for coffee or brunch at any fleeting opportunity.
I've had a lot of camp food over the years and it's varied from 'I think they're trying to poison us' to 'that's really awesome!'
So why is it so inconsistent between venues? Is it because it's hard to cook for so many people? Well... In a word... No! It's actually not! A lot of the time it comes down to total laziness on the part of the caterers. Once the kitchen has a look at dietary needs, that's it! They simply concoct the most average bollocks they can imagine and slop out to everyone. Since you're only there for a few days nobody seems to notice (or care)! But does this make it okay for them to do a rubbish job?
Absolutely not!!! If a venue and program want to have a great reputation for quality, they need to put just as much effort into their food as they do the safety and management of the activities they run the two shouldn't be seen as mutually exclusive. If you serve crap and kids aren't eating, this just adds to the activity risk, so don't do it!
I've owned my own café and been a cook for a residential snow sports training camp in the US, so I know from experience that it's not that hard to cater for large groups with decent food. It just takes a bit of thought and effort!
Cooks need to stop using the excuse that some people don't like spice for making food taste like crap. Too many of them try to race to the bottom to cater for the minority and end up producing nothing but rubbish. This results in food being neither delicious, nor nutritious.
However, my experience hasn't been all bad and I can think of three programs I've worked on, where the quality of the food was awesome! Every meal was simple, flavoursome and there was plenty of it.
So what's your point? Well, my point is don't accept mediocrity when it comes to what's served! Leading up to your excursion, as part of your planning, talk to the catering staff and see what they're going to provide. Make changes if it isn't suitable and provide some honest feedback for what's served. Failing that, leave someone else in charge of the kids and join the rest of the staff at the local Thai restaurant.
This week I'm going to kick off the first of the 'Places to Go! Things to See!' feature where I'll detail and review somewhere that's fun, interesting and has great educational value for students. This feature looks at galleries, museums, historic sites and cultural activities that you can do around Australia. Each feature is based upon my own experience and won't be some crappy rehash of someone else's website or tourist information blurb.
The first port of call (so to speak), is the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum. Tucked away on the South Coast near Huskisson, the museum is a great historic collection that details the settlement history of the local area. From aboriginal heritage, to Governor Macquarie's explorers, to the famous Lady Denman Ferry lovingly restored by locals, the museum is a fantasic opportunity for students to explore the development of a regional community.
There are four main gallery areas in the museum:
1. The Lady Denman Ferry
2. Settlement & Development of Jervis Bay
3. Science & The Sea (a great private collection of rare naval artefacts)
4. Visiting exhibits
The Lady Denman Ferry is a commuter ferry, built in Huskisson, that was in service in Sydney from 1911 to 1979! The ferry transported passengers from Circular Quay to smaller inner harbour wharves such as Cremorne and Mosman. It has a fascinating and controversial story to its return to Huskisson, which basically involved commandeering the boat in the dead of night and sneaking it out of Sydney Harbour, then needing a naval escort when entering Jervis Bay to protect it from the raging seas that were mercilessly pounding the vessel under tow. The fact that it made it back home to Huskisson at all, was a remarkable feat in itself. Not to mention the huge community effort it took to restore this ferry to its former glory.
Other random notable facts I found out here include that most of the area around Jervis Bay is named after naval officers involved in the famous Battle of Cape St. Vincent, with the exception of Huskisson, which is named after an English politician whose main claim to fame is being the first person ever to be killed by a steam train. Not the greatest thing to be remembered for, but hey it just goes to show politicians will do anything for attention.
One of the other galleries has a fantastic collection of naval swords, flintlock firearms, sextants, and artworks depicting the early arrival of ships and explorers to Jervis Bay and the Shoalhaven region.
The other gallery is for touring exhibits, so it could be filled with anything from visiting art works, photos or other interesting artifacts. It's best to check the museum's website for upcoming exhibitions. I was fortunate one time to see an amazing collection of Arthur Boyd's works on display here!
The Jervis Bay Maritime Museum is well worth the visit! It's great for students studying local history or community development as part of the geography syllabus. For a community run museum in a small coastal town, the Jarvis Bay Maritime Museum houses an amazing collection. It's been carefully and thoughtfully curated and shows how the formation of a region has played an important part in the history of our nation.
The museum is run by a wonderful group of friendly volunteers and they'll even provide a guide for your school booking.
Important Fast Facts:
Location: 11 Dent St, Huskisson NSW 2540, Australia
Open Daily: 10am - 4pm
Entrance & Parking: - Woollamia Rd, Huskisson, NSW, 2540
P: (02) 4441 5675
School Education Entry:
$5 - guided tour
$3 - self-guided tour
Closest Decent Coffee:
5 Little Pigs Huskisson
This is the pick of coffee in town, I'll rate this 7/10 beans. It's nice, but not consistent. I've had many coffees from this café. Some a really good, others a bit meh, but none really bad. The food however, is amazing!!!! Definitely worth having breakfast or lunch here whilst someone else is looking after the kids!
Risk is the potential of loss or harm and it's a huge issue when taking kids away on an excursion! But when managed effectively, it means you can provide kids with some fantastic learning opportunities out in the real world! One of the most important things to remember in this litigious world, is that we should never stop taking kids out on excursions! We should just make sure we do a great job in preparation and execution.
Unfortunately when it comes to the issue of risk, most people switch off, or think that it's too hard and that it's someone else's problem. However, if you're taking kids out of school on an activity, then it's not someone else's problem... it's your responsibility! The fact is that most of it comes down to common sense. I'll be posting more on risk and managing that risk through out the year, but here's a few tips on where to get started!
1. When planning an excursion - go and actually do the activity yourself ahead of time.
2. When you do the activity look for issues or concerned based around what could cause an injury or loss of any kind.
3. Take photos of the locations and make note of any issues, or concerns you have seen.
4. Come up with a solution for removing, mitigating and managing each possible risk.
It's that easy! And it doesn't matter if it's a local art gallery, or you're trekking the entire overland track! Get out there and do it! Have some fun as well! Oh and it's a work trip so get them to pay for it!
So as a good starting point for managing risk on an excursion, never be in the situation where you don't know what's around the next corner. Go there! Do it! Know what to expect! Nothing makes for a better risk assessment than seeing things first hand!
This weekend was the annual Quidcamp, which was held at Berry Sport and Rec, bringing together Quidditch enthusiasts from all over the country. With a great roll up of around 120 players, the camp included a range of skills sessions on Saturday, as well as the hotly contested 'state of origin' match on Sunday.
I don't think I could've come across a more interesting and engaging sport for my first Adventure Explorer activity feature!
Other than having seen it fleetingly in Harry Potter, I'd never actually come across Quidditch as a sport until now, but it's been active in Australia since about 2011! So how can I describe it? It's like this wicked mix of dodge ball, basketball, rugby and capture the flag all rolled into one! It's at first confusing to watch, but after a few rounds I started to pick up on what was going on and it was awesome! So rather than me doing a rubbish job of describing how the game works, I've pinched the US Association's quick guide:
For a more detailed description go to their website.
Anyway back to the game itself and Quidcamp. I had the opportunity to have a good chat with the camp organiser and president of the Wollongong Warriors team, Morgan Legg, as well as fellow enthusiast, Chrystal Player from Sydney, who were both really accommodating with all my questions and able to fill me in on exactly what was going on, both on and off the field!
Over the weekend there were a range of skill development workshops to help players learn survivability on the field, how to tackle, how to roll and how to improve their overall game play. Don't be fooled by the Harry Potter origins of this sport! This game is not for the faint hearted. Try running with a stick between your legs whilst people are throwing balls at you (bludgers) and others trying to take the main ball (quaffle) from you before you can score by throwing it into one of three hoops at the end of the field! It's physical, it's intense, it's crazy busy on the field, but most of all, it's awesome to watch!!!
On the field, it's 7 a side at any given point in time, with a total team of 21, who can be subbed on and off. For inclusiveness there's the gender maximum rule of 4, which means there can only be up to 4 players of the same gender on the field at any point in time. This makes it a truly co-ed sport and for me this is an awesome aspect of the game.
In talking with Morgan, I asked about how something like the gender maximum rule affects the game and how important inclusiveness is to the social aspect of the sport. Her response was refreshing, as often other major sports don't value diversity in the way they perhaps could, or should. "Community is a really important thing and Quidditch is welcoming of everyone," remarked Morgan, "This is how we set ourselves apart from other groups." It's a sport "where everyone is important and everyone on the field has an effect."
Quidditch is built on three pillars or the '3Cs' of Competition, Community and Creativity, which encourages everyone to get involved be active and do their best. This kind of philosophy is close to my heart and one that I try to impart on those I teach. I really loved the drive and enthusiasm which everybody brought to the game.
All I can say, as an outside observer looking in, Quidditch is a fun, exciting and challenging game and something I really want to try! I only wish they had cool things like this going on when I was at uni!
So how can I give this a red hot go?
There are clubs in each state, so the best place to start is by checking out the national website and find the closest club! Go along, watch and hopefully get to try a game! You know you want to!
AQA - Australian Quidditch Association
Thinking back, can you remember the first time you had to deal with a real first aid emergency?
My first experience is something that's always stuck in my mind, as it was confronting and my reaction wasn't what it would be now. We were out on a night navigation exercise, ascending a spur under head torch light, when one of the students collapsed. As soon as I saw him go down, everything I learnt on my two day first aid course went out the window... I completely froze...
This left me feeling overwhelmed and helpless! I wasn't sure what I should be doing. I had this sudden debilitating feeling... I can't deal with this! Thankfully I had another really experienced teacher with me, who jumped in and took charge of the situation. The day had been ragingly hot and it turned out the boy was severely dehydrated and suffering from heat stroke.
It's hard to train for this sort of situation and until it actually happens, it's very hard to know what your initial reaction is going be and what it's going to feel like. It's even harder to know what to do about it. However, one important thing you can do in any situation, in the words of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is 'Don't Panic'. Take a deep breath, be calm, collected and assess the situation. Run through the DRSABCD calmly in your head and look around assessing the area as you approach. This will give you time to put your gloves on, collect your thoughts and balance out the adrenaline that your brain has just shot into your body.
Don't let your body overwhelm you in this sort of situation. Calmness and common sense helps a great deal and first aid is not a solo effort, so if you can, call another teacher in to help manage the situation and provide support for the casualty whilst you wait for emergency services. Remember, most importantly, you're there stablising and protecting your students from further harm until the ambulance arrives.
After that incident I decided I should upgrade my training beyond the basic two day course and so I studied wilderness first aid. This helped develop my confidence in treating injuries and managing casualties, but still nothing focussed and developed my skills more than the experience of a student walking up to me dripping with blood from massive cuts to his chest, hands and stomach! But that's a story for another time!