Waving goodbye to their parents as the bus bound for Ahuroa pulls out of the King’s College gates, each month a group of Year 10 students turn their minds to the challenge that lies ahead.
The Year 10 Adventure Challenge is a three-week long programme designed to unlock potential in students through discovery in the wild.
“The outdoors provides a different medium for these students to learn and experience life,” Programme Director Rod Pancoust says. “It’s not a virtual experience, it’s real.”
Time spent at the College venture camp in Puhoi, on Steinlager II (Sir Peter Blake’s 85-foot maxi yacht) and in Tongariro National Park sees students tramp, kayak, learn bushcraft, sail, snorkel and more.
“The programme is designed to bring out attributes like responsibility, self-reliance, leadership, teamwork and confidence. They learn these sorts of things from the activities and challenges that they undertake during the course,” Mr Pancoust says.
Year 11 student Nick Dingley, who undertook the challenge in early 2020, says that being away from home was a new experience.
“It definitely put me out of my comfort zone. It’s kind of hard, but it’s worth it at the end,” he says.
For his mum Louise Dingley, an Old Collegian of King’s College, the changes she noticed in Nick were clear.
“I think he’s come back with a new sense of maturity and self-respect having undergone all of these incredible challenges,” she says.
Mr Pancoust agrees. “Students come back with a bigger awareness of not only themselves, but empathy and ability to work with other students.”
The College’s founding Headmaster, Mr Graham Bruce, deemed that King’s College should provide the “best all-round education it is possible to obtain”.
Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) is defined as “the use of places other than the classroom for teaching and learning”, and the King’s College philosophy is that improving young a young person’s understanding, skills, values and personal development can significantly enhance their learning and academic achievement. The Year 10 Adventure Challenge is one of the opportunities provided for students to benefit from a wider curriculum.
And the benefits are applied for years to come. “We get students come back and say that it was a significant experience for them because they’ve transferred their new knowledge to school, then their job or studies at university,” Mr Pancoust says.
For Nick, the impact of the experience is still making itself known. “I think it’s changed me in ways that I don’t really know about yet. I feel like it’s going to come over time.”