The Cove delivers after Coronavirus disrupts

03 September 2020

Running, yoga, climbing, canoeing, bush walking, cooking....While The Cove program, built for our Year 9s went quiet during Term 1 and in part, Term 2 due to coronavirus restrictions, we are back strong and active to instill leadership, resilience, outdoor skill and cooperation - to name but a few – in our students.

From invigorating early morning runs along the various and now familiar tracks leading away from school, to yoga sessions that bring mindfulness and provide a calm beginning to the day, to bush walks, canoeing, rock climbing, trangia cooking and cooperative games and team building activities – the Year 9 cohort has experienced it all in the last few weeks.

While the yoga sessions are good to combat stress and teach the students a calm and positive mindset, the climbing challenged them every bit in their physical beings! Canoeing and bushwalking added to the activities experienced over three one-day local excursions in the last few weeks. The students got a renewed appreciation of the beauty of the immediate vicinity of their school as they hiked, paddled, ran, cooked and climbed in it. They even erected tents and tarps as a way to practice their skills for the upcoming Shoalhaven adventure in Term 4.  

Although not every canoe steered by students out of the mangrove-lined exit of Scotts Creek into Fig Tree Cove was going in a straight line, students learned a lot about how to more efficiently manoeuvre the boats across water. Equally, putting up a tent for practice, more than to sleep in, may not be as rewarding, but is an essential to get right in the wilderness that awaits the students on the Shoalhaven River and its banks. The walls students climbed in four different routes were all within Harold Reid Reserve close to our school. The ropes were all set up by our Outdoor Education duo KG and Scottie and catered for different abilities. While half the cohort sat in a semi-circle not far from the walls to cook their mostly healthy meals they had brought along, the other part of the cohort attempted the walls before swapping activities around.   

Three people were in each climbing team, one climber and two belaying the climber before taking turns. Harness and equipment as well as climbing technique were again explained to students as they learned about safety features and how to lower a climber safely down once they had reached their individual end point of their climbs. Some had great success reaching the top of their climbs!

Teamwork was needed in all activities as cooperation and a better connection between students is one of the core ideas about The Cove program that borrows from both PE and Outdoor Ed in the skills it aims to refine.

As bushwalking is such an essential skill in a country like Australia, it is also something we want our students to be confident in. Not every student is an avid bushwalker yet but they are getting better at it and practice makes perfect as we all know.

The Cove offers our Year 9s ample opportunity to catch up, to talk while walking, canoeing or cooking and thereby supporting the students social and emotional wellbeing. This comes at a crucial time as we are all under the COVID-19 cloud and somewhat less connected. It is also a time when teenage development is at a crossroads and many students may feel it’s ‘all about themselves’ feeling they have all the rights and few responsibilities. It is crucial that they have positive intervention, role models and activities that counter this idea and provide meaningful interaction with nature, in nature and with one another.