Outdoor Education – Character development through the outdoors

“The outdoors is a powerful tool to help people sort out where they’re at in terms of confidence. There are no masks. On a mountain or a rock face, you can’t hide that fact that you are scared. In a very short time you can experience some intense learning and life-changing situations which would take a long time and a lot of talking to achieve in a classroom. It might never happen at all in a classroom.”

– Bev Smith, Outdoor Pursuits Centre Instructor

In Outdoor Education, students learn ‘through’, ‘in’ and ‘about’ the outdoors:

Through the outdoors: students develop understanding, skills and attitudes to enhance interactions and relationships with others

In the outdoors: students develop safe practices

About the outdoors: students develop knowledge and understanding of the need to protect and care for the environment.

Outdoor Education may be taken as an Option in Year 10. Students experience numerous outdoor pursuits to develop their personal characteristics, learn basic outdoor skills and knowledge.

The subject may be continued from Years 11-13 for NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3, and also taken for Scholarship. In Year 11 students complete a course related to self-management, safe behaviours, interpersonal skills, quality movement and body function all related to outdoor pursuits. During Year 12 they practice personal and social responsibility, planning, risk management and bushcraft before the focus turns to leadership, risk management, independent planning and preparation in Year 13.

A side effect of the rise of technology is that it’s made skills like communication, leadership, and cultural intelligence more important than ever. Recently, employers have started valuing these things more and the degree is no longer king. Soft skills and emotional intelligence, is not something a machine can replicate.

Student testimonies

“During my time at MAGS, Outdoor Education was a source of happiness for me, contributing to my NCEA Achievement Standard credits as much as any other subject.
Outdoor Education gave me skills I never found in any other subjects at MAGS. The programme challenged myself and my classmates by exposing us to environments that pushed us to expand our social and problem solving skills.
I grew as a person in the programme – and not just in practical outdoor skills. The social and emotional intelligence I gained serves me every day in life. The ability to effectively work with people, understand their needs, and peacefully compromise with their differing opinions are some of the many skills the program ingrained in me.
Since leaving MAGS, I was fortunate enough to be admitted into Yale University, and I can genuinely say Outdoor Education endorsed my application. Throughout my first year, it helped strengthen the relationships I have with my peers and professors, and it empowered me to deal with the challenges of everyday university life. It is my most valued subject of secondary school.”

– Jonathan Winter

“I initially took Outdoor Education as a bit of a fun subject to keep me focused on my other classes.
It took a lot of persuasion to get my parents to let me take it as they didn’t see the benefit. They now think that it was one of the best things I did at school.
Outdoor Education opened a door to a whole world I never knew existed, it pushed me into an industry where I can teach, manage and guide all around the world and have a great time along the way. Which coming from a central city school I don’t think I would have known about otherwise. It definitely tested me mentally and physically. I was shy, un-coordinated and lacked confidence in my ability.
But by pushing my limits I made great friends and learnt fantastic skills. Actually, the friends I made in that class are some of the few people I still talk to from MAGS. The skills learnt in this class can be applied to all aspects of life. Leadership, communication, compromise, compassion and laughter even when things might not be so easy. I use these on a daily basis whether at work, with friends or stuck in an airport with lost bags.
The outdoor skills have also helped along the way. At the moment, I am currently working in Squamish, BC in Canada at a rafting company where I am the supervisor of an outstanding office team, and help run logistics. My career might not be glamorous but it is extremely fulfilling, exciting and diverse. Every day is different and you are always kept on your toes. I have no idea where I would be had I not take Outdoor Education at school, but it certainly wouldn’t be here and I credit the MAGS Outdoor Education programme for this.”

– Natasha Johnson

“I studied Outdoor Education every year it was offered to me at Mount Albert Grammar school and then continued to study Outdoor Education right through to a tertiary level.
My time in the program at Mount Albert Grammar school was not only a break from the routine of school but a powerful median for my personal growth as a young adult.
I recently spent some time helping to run a 14-day expedition for a group of people studying the Wharton MBA at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. During the venture, this group of professional adults biked, hiked and rafted from the West coast of the South Island to the East coast.
The purpose of the venture was to develop their ability to problem solve, have mental strength in adversity and gain some very valuable social skills through working in a team that was being pushed to their limits. Throughout this venture I was thinking about how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to experience that growth in secondary school.
The opportunity for growth that the Outdoor Education program provides is an opportunity that is not available inside of the classroom. Through challenging myself during the program I learnt a lot of valuable skills such as, the ability to rationally think under pressure, adapt to change quickly, resolve conflict within my relationships, the ability to manage and work with risk and lead a team with confidence in any circumstance.
To anyone trying to decide whether or not to take Outdoor Education as a subject I would recommend it above all other subjects for the growth which cannot be had inside.”

– Joshua Bougen

Click here to see videos of Outdoor Education trips

Click here to see reports on Outdoor Education trips

Year 10 Outdoor Education

Course content

The course involves both theory and practical lessons. The lessons will be a combination of classroom-based theory and activities based in an outdoor environment.

Topics Taught

  • Respect through Surfing
  • Positivity through Whitewater Kayaking
  • Perseverance through Mountain Biking
  • Communication through Rock Climbing
  • Self-Management through Tramping and Camping

Students attend two classes per week, one in a classroom and the other in a practical setting that may include the pool, climbing wall or fields. During the course of the year there will be offsite trips that will supplement school-based learning.

Assessment

Each unit will be assessed through a combination of how well a student demonstrates the personal characteristics, practical tests and theory tests.

Subject cost

A subject cost of $200 covers expenses related to educational trips outside the classroom.

Prerequisites

Satisfactory completion of Year 9 Health and Physical Education with an interest in outdoor pursuits. Please note: there are limited places available in this course and therefore a student’s performance in Year 9 and half payment of the course costs may be required to determine final selection.

Year 10 videos hereYear 10 videos here

Year 11 Outdoor Education

Course Content

The course involves both theory and practical lessons. The lessons will be a combination of classroom based theory and activities based in an outdoor environment.

Units of work

  • Character Development notably Time Management, Fear, Integrity, Unity, Efficiency, Resilience, Adaptability and Initiative.
  • Getting Stuck In: Students develop an understanding of factors that influence their own participation in outdoor pursuits (Surfing, Whitewater Kayaking, Tramping, Mt Biking, Mud Running, Climbing)
  • Self-Management: Students develop self-management strategies and describe the effects these have on participation in outdoor pursuits (Surfing and Whitewater Kayaking)
  • Play It Safe: Students develop an understanding for the need of responsible behaviour when participating in outdoor pursuits (Whitewater Kayaking and Tramping)
  • Mahi Tahi: Students develop effective interpersonal skills in order to be able to work in a group and realise how these interpersonal skills impact on others (Adventure Based Learning activities, Tramping and Camping).
  • Discovery 101: Students learn the science of physical activity and relate this knowledge to outdoor pursuits. Topics include Exercise Physiology (Mud Running), Anatomy and Biomechanics (Mt Biking).
  • Quality Performance: Students develop their performance to a high level in two outdoor pursuits (Mud Running and Climbing).

Students attend four classes per week, a mixture of classroom and practical settings that may include the pool, climbing wall or fields. During the course of the year there will be offsite trips that will supplement school-based learning.

23 Achievement Standard credits – all internally assessed

Course cost

A course cost of approximately $330 covers expenses related to educational trips outside the classroom.

Prerequisites

40 Academic Graduation points in Year 10 Outdoor Education (10OE1) and paid 10OE1 course costs in full. Students apply to the HOD for admission. The HOD’s decision will depend on the student’s attitude during lessons, having demonstrated a willingness to learn and extend themselves in Year 10 Outdoor Education (10OE1) and Year 10 Physical Education (10PE1). Please note: there are limited places available in this course and therefore a student’s performance in Year 10 may be required to determine final selection.

Year 12 Outdoor Education

Course Content

The course involves both theory and practical lessons. The lessons will be a combination of classroom based theory and activities based in an outdoor environment.

Units of work

  • Character Development notably Personal Responsibility, Composure, Social Responsibility, Awareness and Selflessness.
  • Personal and Social Responsibility: Students develop effective interpersonal skills in order to be able to work in a group and realise how these interpersonal skills impact on others. They will use Hellison’s model as a basis for demonstrating interpersonal skills.
  • Quality Performance: Students develop their performance to a high level in scuba diving.
  • Risk Management: Students develop their ability to identify risks, hazards and relevant strategies related to the activities they are participating in (Scuba Diving, Mountain Biking, Whitewater Kayaking). They also evaluate these strategies on their return from each trip.
  • Event Planning: Students examine the implementation and outcomes related to the activities they are participating in (Mountain Biking, Whitewater Kayaking).
  • Mountain Biking: Students develop their skills in selecting, setting up, maintaining and riding mountain bikes. They complete rides in Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo.
  • Bushcraft: Students develop an understanding of the requirements for a safe multi-day tramp in the bush, including clothing, equipment, navigation aids and food. They then plan and undertake a three-day tramp (Tramping).
  • Journey: Students complete a three-day journey by foot. They are responsible for planning, decision making and working as a team to complete the journey.

13 Achievement Standard credits and 6 Unit Standard credits – all internally assessed

 

Course cost

A course cost of approximately $700 covers expenses related to educational trips outside the classroom.

Prerequisites

At least 11 credits in Year 11 Outdoor Education (11OE1) and paid 11OE1 course costs in full

OR 40 Academic Graduation points in Year 10 Outdoor Education (10OE1) and paid 10OE1 course costs in full OR HoD approval. Please note: there are limited places available in this course and therefore a student’s performance in Year 11 may be required to determine final selection.

Year 13 Outdoor Education

Course Content

The course involves both theory and practical lessons. The lessons will be a combination of classroom based theory and activities based in an outdoor environment.

Units of work

  • Character Development notably Gratitude, Judgement, Creativity, Reliability, Adaptability, Independence and Perspective.
  • Back to the Future: Students evaluate outdoor pursuit experiences to devise strategies for life long well-being (Surfing, Canoeing, Tramping, Rogaine, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Solo Camping).
  • The Journey over the Destination: Students analyse issues in safety management and devise safety management strategies (Canoeing, Personal Event).
  • Putting Everything in Place: Students devise strategies for a physical activity outcome (Tramping, Rogaine).
  • Easily Led: students examine contemporary leadership principles applied in outdoor pursuit contexts (Canoeing, Tramping, Rogaine).
  • Showing Independence: Students train to demonstrate quality performance of an outdoor pursuit in an applied setting (Climbing, Mountain Biking).

19 Achievement Standard credits – all internally assessed


Course cost

A course cost of approximately $780 covers expenses related to educational trips outside the classroom.

Prerequisites

At least 18 credits in Level 2 Outdoor Education (12OE3) with merit in AS91334 (Personal and Social Responsibility), achieved in AS91333 (Risk Management), a completed Bushcraft Manual and paid 12OE3 course costs in full OR HoD approval. Please note: there are limited places available in this course and therefore a student’s performance in Year 12 may be required to determine final selection.

Career pathways

 

Students who complete Outdoor Education to Level 3 will develop their key attributes to a high level. This is often what makes them more employable, as the subject has a strong emphasis on attitude, aptitude, ambition, aspiration and attendance.

The Year 13 course is university approved, and may lead to tertiary study for those wishing to make a career in areas linked with the outdoors. Possible jobs include Outdoor Instructor or Guide, Teacher, Challenge Course Facilitator, Environmental Educator, Event Co-ordinator, jobs in conservation, in the tourism sector (including business and marketing), and in outdoor equipment retail.

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Contact the Outdoor Education Department

The Macpac Adventure Partnership is an initiative that partners Macpac with Mount Albert Grammar School to demonstrate a sharing of our core values of openness and honesty, adventurous thinking, sustainability and which, in our own way, promote “adventure for life”.

By choosing to select Macpac products you will directly benefit Mount Albert Grammar School, as 10% of your purchase will return to the MAGS Outdoor Education department to be used to purchase clothing and equipment for students to use. Sign up to the Macpac Wilderness club (free to join), mention you are linked to Mount Albert Grammar School and receive 30% off the full retail price of all Macpac products in all stores. 10% of all of your sales will return to MAGS Outdoor Education