Rising to the Challenges

Year 8 boys from Rofe, School and Hancock houses followed in the footsteps of Armstrong, Crowther and Dixon this week by making the journey out to the ancient lands of Gariwerd (the Grampians) to experience the wildflower season. The weather has been cooler and a little wetter, but that hasn’t stopped a number of our boys choosing to challenge themselves by sleeping out in the open either under a group tarp or directly beneath the stars!

One of our main foci over the past two weeks was to allow the boys a chance to cement their PROSPER classroom learnings and utilise the VIA Strengths in real-world contexts. The boys have been exposed to the idea of VIA Strengths in the classroom and have completed the Strengths survey (a quiz that ranks from 1 to 24 the strengths that describe them best). Each group was given a stack of small cards with the various VIA Strengths written on them and briefed as to how they could ‘strength spot’ as the days progressed. These cards encouraged the boys to engage with and appreciate their own strengths as well as seeking out and appreciating the strengths in others.

Through the challenges of the OE program, we are trying to help the boys develop a positive mindset and a sense of resilience through a strengths focus that they can then apply to their social, academic and sporting lives at School and at home. As you may have read in last week’s eNews from Travis Hopgood, the boys have embraced the exercise, strength-spotting in the adults present as well as in each other!

Last Thursday was R U OK? Day around Australia and we incorporated the concept of looking out for one another into our Outdoor Education journey this week. In times of shared difficulty, some members of the group or team tend to struggle more than others; when we know that people are there for us, it strengthens our sense of belonging, which has been linked with improved mental health.  As educators, we have made a concerted effort over the past two weeks to encourage the boys to be open and honest with the whole team about how they are travelling (physically, mentally and emotionally). Some great debriefs have been facilitated around campfires and boys have shared courageously whether they ‘R OK’.

At our departure on Sunday morning, Nathan O’Malley (Assistant Head of OE) explained that there will be lots of challenges during the boys’ Outdoor Education experiences at BGS; but at the end of the day, it isn’t the challenges that matter most, but how each one of us responds to those challenges as the outward examples of our inner character. Outdoor Education at Brighton Grammar naturally exposes and grows these character strengths in a safe and supportive environment.

David Gemmell
Head of Outdoor Education