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Not your average school camp

Earlier this month, ACG Tauranga’s Year 10 cohort experienced an action-packed school camp. The experience proved to be a high-octane and camaraderie filled event while also delivering some invaluable life lessons.
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ACG Tauranga's Year 10 cohort recently experienced “the best camp ever”

From virtual reality games and a murder mystery theme night to meal planning and even grocery shopping, ACG Tauranga’s recent Year 10 camp was deemed by its participants to be “the best camp ever”.

Held at Ohope Beach Christian Camp earlier this month, the three-day and two-night trip was designed to strengthen student bonds, and according to teacher and camp coordinator Nicky Gawler, it achieved all that and more.

“The purpose of this particular camp was to encourage students to support each other through different experiences,” says Nicky. “The Year 10s are a lovely inclusive group of students, and it’s important that these bonds continue to flourish as they mature both academically and as young people.”

Student Alexa Bishop loved the opportunity to connect with her fellow students outside of the classroom.

“The camp was really good,” she says. “There was a good balance of activities, and we still had plenty of time to hang out with each other. We are an inclusive group as a whole. Despite having different friendship groups, we’re all really happy for anyone to join in with what we’re doing. This isn’t anything new, but it’s nice to see it continued in a different setting.”

And with only 25 students in the group, this year’s camp-goers were treated to something a little different.

Nicky explains, “Because we are such a small group, I wanted to give the students more ownership of their camp experience this year. So while I planned their core activities, they were able to approve the activity list, decide on their characters for the murder mystery night and choose who they were sharing cabins with.”

Not only that, but students were responsible for keeping their cabins clean and tidy, and also had to plan and shop for all the camp meals.

“Students were split into groups, and after deciding on the menu and making a list of necessary ingredients, they were given a budget to stick to and taken shopping at PAK’nSAVE Whakatane. They had to make all their own decisions about what brands and flavours to buy, although teachers were on hand to answer any questions – such as why red, yellow and green peppers could be found in the produce section, but not black pepper!”

For Year 10 student Luke Free it was an eye-opening exercise.

“Planning for meals was a big learning curve,” says Luke. “Sending out a survey and collating the responses to decide on what was needed was an interesting experience as people’s choices were quite varied, and we needed to come up with meals everyone would like.”

It was an activity that got a big thumbs up from the parents as well.

“Since returning from camp, a couple of parents have been in touch to say thank you,” confirms Nicky. “One child went home and expressed amazement at how much food costs, and another is now keen to help with the grocery shopping.”

With the domestic tasks sorted, students immersed themselves in an action-packed few days of laser tag, drift triking, surfing, racing car simulations and virtual reality (VR) experiences. Dane Malkhasian was in his element.

“This year’s camp was amazing because we did really fun activities,” he says. “I learned how to run a murder mystery and how to surf better. Meanwhile, the VR experience taught me that I’m the only one in Year 10 that’s scared of heights, but everyone else is scared of spiders!”

In addition, students had time to scale the summit of Otanewainuku, wander among the glow worms at Ohope Scenic Reserve and soak in the Awakeri Hot Springs – and they even got to experience the very rare phenomenon of vog (volcanic fog) rolling off White Island.

“The students especially enjoyed having the chance to spend time together as a whole group outside of school,” adds Nicky. “They particularly loved the surfing and VR activities, playing the family version of Cards Against Humanity, and socialising together around the large table outside the cabins.”

But what about the teachers?

“For us, the highlights were watching the students step out of their comfort zone and succeed at activities they may not initially have been so keen on. Seeing them navigate the supermarket was also extremely entertaining!”

Shopping for supplies
Drift triking was a popular activity
As was the Kahikatea tramp
And the chance to improve their surfing