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New Zealand’s Strathmore High School will be offering a new outdoor education program course aimed at training students in important skills in an outdoor environment, like survival skills, on top of allowing for outdoor team building activities and learning leadership skills.

This new Outdoor Education program will be a three-credit course, offered from the September to November and from mid-April to June. The teacher in charge of the program will be Stephanie Aitken, who is currently running the school’s outdoor ed club. She says that, currently, the program is a non-credit club, but that, come 2019, it’ll be offered as a credited course.

According to her, the new program will have six core objectives it’ll be focused on.  Outdoor knowledge is, of course, the first key objective, followed by physical challenges, being able to experience nature, as well as personal reflection, leadership and stewardship.

One of the long-term goals for the program is to get the students to be more socially responsible; to be able to work with community organizations and participate in community service. Aitken adds that she’s also look for people who can help with that by getting the student into programs.

Scott Sackett, a teacher from nearby Crowther Memorial Junior High School, who has been running a similar program for the junior high students of that school.

Another key goal of the program is to build up the outdoor knowledge of the students, to give them the necessary critical thinking and ability to make informed choices in order to be able to complete an overnight outdoor excursion.

The program’s is still an educational and knowledge building program, with the outings being a reflection of what the kids are supposed to learn.

Aitken say she is also looking for people who can offer any sort of support for the program whether by providing outdoor gear like backpacking tents, sleeping bags and backpacks, or be being a guest speaker to come in and help educate the students. There are a lot of people who work in the outdoors that apply the skills Aitken wishes to teach the students, she says, and learning from someone who knows the real world utility of these skills can help students.

Currently the course is a mixed group of Grade 10 to 12 students, which may change further depending on the enrolees. The Stratmore High School’s page has more info on the program, as well as Aitken herself.

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