READIN’, writin’, and rithmatic’, are all staples of education, but at Nambucca Heads High School they’re also learning skills for life on the back of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
The personal development program has been embraced by a number of students who are keen to explore different experiences.
And while it’s not compulsory, it’s ‘mad fun’, according to 15-year-old Timothy Daley.
The program is coordinated by teacher Steve Steward, and students can come onboard from Year 9.
Aimed at 14 to 25-year-olds, the Duke of Edinburgh program teaches young people a wide range of skills – everything from how to light a fire in the rain, through to how to improve their fitness and wellbeing.
And, it looks good on a young person’s CV that they have attained a particular level in the award.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award program has four pillars: service, physical recreation, skills and expedition.
An example of the latter saw Nambucca High students tackle white water kayaking on the Nymboida.
Mr Steward said while adventures such as that would transport students out of their comfort zone, they were well prepared: practising in kayaks near the
V-Wall and then in the upper reaches of the Bellinger River.
The service component of the award is equally varied: students may help out at an aged care facility or get their hands dirty with Landcare.
Mr Steward said the Duke of Edinburgh Award was a means of ensuring an outdoor education component at schools.
Some 30 Nambucca High students are currently in the scheme, which awards levels of achievement from bronze through to gold.
And the students are happy to sing the program’s praises:
“The award is good for your future because you can say you’ve been involved with the Duke of Edinburgh,” said
15-year-old Anna Curtis.
Brent Russo, also 15, said the program built character, while Alex Blair and Timothy Daley said it was an
outlet to “get out in the bush and do mad stuff”.
Eight of the school’s students are now looking to take the final step from the silver level to gold: and to accomplish that involves a residential experience where they have to live away from home for three nights.
The teachers too benefit from the program.
“When you go out on an expedition the group gets the chance to bond as you face the challenges,” Mr Steward said.