Deep Creek Conservation Park Bushwalk: Reflections
During the mid-semester break, students enrolled in the topic HLPE3532: Introduction to Education in Outdoor Environments partook in a multi-day hiking and camping trip over three days and two nights in Deep Creek Conservation Park, SA. I was assigned to Group 3, and within this group of ten, each of us had an organisational role to fulfill in preparation for and during the trip itself.
The roles included: Coordinators, Transport, Medical and Menus, Route Plans, Emergency Procedures, Trip Intentions, and Equipment. Using the provided documentation, it was the responsibility of each group member to complete set tasks to ensure that all elements of the preparation, the hike, and the clean-up process were completed. Coordinating the complex array of tasks needed for preparation, logistics and safety implications of the trip highlighted the importance of a strong understanding of both the environmental considerations and practical and safety measures that must be examined in preparing for group excursions.
It was agreed that another member and I would take on the role of Coordinators and were therefore responsible for the oversight and any required assistance for
task completion by the group. Fulfilling this role required my partner and I to work closely and collaboratively while communicating with the group during all stages of the trip. I believe I was fortunate in being able to work alongside a person that had relevant prior experience and was enthusiastic, engaged, and proactive about the requirements of our role, because it enabled me to enjoy the experience and contribute more effectively to the trip outcomes due to our like-mindedness and shared expectations and contributions.
Reflective of the enthusiasm demonstrated by the other coordinator, the members of the bushwalk team were excited to be out on the trail and came prepared to contribute to the experience. Throughout the three days, we encouraged group members to take opportunities to practice their outdoor leadership capabilities in hard skills such as camp craft demonstrations, assisting others with adjusting packs, navigation and map to ground
reading, as well as soft skills such as organisation, briefing and debriefing while communicating with groups of students, reflection activities and camping games. While some members of our group had never been camping or hiking with a rucksack before, and others had a high level of experience in outdoor leadership, everyone took on a new challenge, contributed, and encouraged each other respectfully and enthusiastically. As a result of this, it was clear to me that our group was forming a strong dynamic and close bond, which allowed us to perform as a team and build trust, respect and friendship, which are all characteristics that would normally represent a desired result from a successful outdoor education activity or trip (Beames & Atencio, 2008).
As someone that has spent time volunteering as a leader within the context of wilderness and adventure therapy with teenage youth, I considered the majority of our group to have the attributes and enthusiasm I believe is required for successful role modelling and teaching in these environments (Beames et al., 2019, p. 147). This trip allowed me to engage with other like-minded people and develop my communication skills working with groups in the outdoors and practice activities using experiential learning as a pedagogical approach to learning.
The image above depicts the route that our group planned for and hiked over the 3 days. Our GPS recorded the following statistics:
Day 1: 4hr:21m / 13.2km / 3.02kmhr / 383m Ascent / 443m Descent
Day 2: 6hr:29m/ 15.4km/ 2.38kmhr / 524m Ascent / 533m Descent
Day 3: 3hr:0m / 10.4km / 3.45kmhr / 350m Ascent / 252m Descent
Beames, S., & Atencio, M. (2008). Building social capital through outdoor education. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor
Learning, 8(2), 99–112. https://doi.org/10.1080/14729670802256868
Beames, S., Mackie, C., & Atencio, M. (2019). Adventure and Society (1st ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-96062-3