A Journey of Discovery

The Great Southwest Journey (GSWJ) for 2021 has concluded with a wonderful return ceremony on Saturday 27 November.

Year 9 families were privy to a small glimpse of what the boys and outdoor educators undertook over the previous nine days on a journey over three connected yet unique landscapes, utilising three modes of transport in the southwest corner of Victoria. 

Going into its seventh year in 2022, the GSWJ has become part of the fabric for our School with knowledge and tips being passed down from older boys to the Year 9s, and younger brothers wanting to have the same adventurous experiences as their older brothers had a few years ago.

More than just a long Outdoor Education camp, this journey changes who our boys are on the inside; for some they know they’ve changed when they return, for others it may take them a few years to grasp the impact that the GSWJ has had on them and that is okay by us.

What is important, is that these boys have started a greater journey of self-discovery and should feel proud of what they have accomplished.

Thanks also go out to the wider BGS staff who journeyed with the boys in the field, or supported their preparations during tutor time in the lead up. Also, to the wider BGS community who encouraged us with emails and phone calls, telling us how impactful this journey is to all involved.

I am particularly proud of the Outdoor Education department staff of Carly West, Rob Ogilvie and Bianca Bell, who spent many extra hours planning and preparing, shifting and pivoting with changing COVID-19 requirements, and upholding the School’s excellent reputation with local landowners and outdoor companies.  My thanks to the BGS Senior Executive team who allowed us to keep the GSWJ flame alive during our extended lockdowns.

All the elements of this journey are planned and focused around the three aims listed below. This year, more than any other, I was witness to powerful examples of each one from our boys. The GSWJ aims to:

  • be a journey of self-discovery (physical, intellectual, emotional/accomplishment and self-reflection)
  • forge greater camaraderie between fellow Tonners (working with each other and for each other / tolerance and conflict resolution)
  • solidify and extend a boy’s personal outdoor skills (tarping out, navigation, self-cater menu planning)

Please check out the Facebook posts, video and photos and, if you see a Year 9 BGS student, please stop and congratulate him for embracing fully his 2021 Great Southwest Journey.

David Gemmell
Head of Outdoor Education.