Whenua Iti Outdoors have just had the busiest summer holiday ever, with a total of 137 children through on 11 different holiday programmes that catered for ages from 7 right through to 18, all with a focus on adventure-based activities that provide positive learning experiences in the outdoors.
The same experienced staff who deliver our core education programmes throughout the school year run our holiday programmes. Each programme offers challenges to overcome – for some it might be a fear of heights on the high ropes or abseiling, it could be the physical challenge of carrying a heavy pack for the first time, or it might be the social challenge of connecting with a new group of people. “The programmes are intentionally designed with challenging aspects – they are about exploring, learning outdoor skills, and having fun as well, but with the ultimate goal for students to become aware of their true strengths and potential,” says Ross Morton, Safety & Operations Manager at Whenua Iti.
The education philosophy behind the programmes we run at WIO weaves together elements of experiential learning, outdoor education and nature connection to provide the best outcomes for each student. “We always look for opportunities to extend their learning. Most of the time, this revolves around helping students realise what they are capable of and build their confidence,” says Ross.
This summer was no exception – students faced snowy conditions in the Tablelands mid-summer and learnt why we make them carry those extra layers of clothing! It was a great lesson in being prepared and resilient as students were pushed outside their comfort zones and challenged by the conditions. “It was great! I had no idea I would be able to do that” said one of our students on the Junior Journey.
As to why there is such a growing interest in the programmes, Mark Bruce-Miller, our GM, believes that it is due to a growing awareness of the need to build resilience in our children. “I think there is an acknowledgement within the education system, and from parents, that access to these types of programmes has never been more important in developing both a connection to nature for boosting wellbeing and developing the resilience our kids are going to need in the future. It was fantastic to see so many embrace the opportunites we can offer at WIO thanks to the support we get from our partners and funders.”
As always, we are grateful for the support from our partners and funders that enables access to these programmes for our local youth. Particular thanks to Rātā Foundation, the Community Grants Scheme from the Department of Internal Affairs & Ministry of Youth Development for supporting our holiday programmes.