One of the key objectives of a successful Year 7 transition is helping the boys develop connections with their peers and fostering a strong sense of belonging. One of the strategies we use to achieve this goal is the Year 7 Orientation camp right at the beginning of the boys’ Whitefriars journey.
Three days into their time at Whitefriars, the first four Houses head to Camp Manyung for a 3-day camp. Two days after this, the next four Houses head off. For some, including parents/guardians, this can be a daunting task. However, to coin a cliché – it’s about ripping the bandaid off and dropping them in a supported environment away from the security of home with their new school family.
Boys connect by ‘doing things’. Give a group of boys a ball and all of a sudden, a game or a competition begins. This interaction is one of the primary ways in which boys develop friendships. The camp comprises a range of physical activities to enable this to happen. These range from raft building on the beach, sea kayaking, snorkelling, giant swing, tree top challenge, team building and leadership activities/challenges. The camp also run a kitchen garden program where the boys make their own pizzas from scratch including fresh produce from the Manyung garden. Throughout all these activities, the boys are working together, relying on and trusting each other and forging bonds which will follow them back to school and throughout their time at Whitefriars.
Another special part of the camp experience is a visit from the Year 12 House Captains. The Captains spend time with the Year 7 boys in their House and run a session where they talk about their experience of Year 7 and provide advice about how to make the most of their time at Whitefriars. This is another experience which helps foster a sense of belonging as they develop a deeper connection with a Year 12 student who will look out for them back at school like a big brother.
A huge than-you to House Leaders and the Pastoral Care and Learning Diversity staff who accompanied the boys. A special thanks to Sam Riddle, Director Middle Years, for her planning and preparation behind the scenes to ensure a successful camp. Also, to Peter Rennie for coordinating the camp on the ground and ensuring its smooth running.
The Year 7 camp is an experience that will help shape the boys’ time at Whitefriars and hopefully the bonds they have begun to forge will continue to grow at back at school and even beyond their time at the College.
Mr Mick Lafferty
Deputy Principal – Students