At the Small Schools Super Camp in March, 130 students and 30 teachers from 10 small schools came together with 10 teachers and 22 students from three Sydney schools. Held at Nyngan in rural NSW, the Super Camp was a huge chance for students to enjoy art, dance, drama, music, science, netball, and touch football and soccer activities.
Students from schools with more than 1,000 students camped with students who learn at home or those from schools with as few as five students. They enjoyed playing sport in teams with other children, from all over the state.
The third time this annual event has been held, the Small Schools Super Camp aims to allow larger schools to share expertise with smaller, isolated schools, so their students experience a wider curriculum. Much hard work by public primary school teachers and Uniting Church chaplains was behind the Camp. Grant applications were submitted, and Sydney private schools were approached for resources, as well as teaching and mentoring abilities of staff and senior students.
“It’s important for students from small schools to socialise with children their own age,” said Julie Greig, Rural Chaplain from Hillston. “For the city students, it’s important to experience rural life and, for the Uniting Church, it’s important that we use our resources to support rural areas.”
Primary students from Hermidale, Weilmoringle, Wanaaring, Marra Creek, Enngonia, Gwabegar, Carinda, Quambone and Girilambone Public Schools, as well as Bourke and Walgett School of Distance Education, met senior students from three Sydney schools: Knox College, Pymble Ladies’ College and Ravenswood School.
Principal of Hermidale Public School Leone Dewhurst said, “It is great to see the camp going from strength to strength, building relationships between students of the various schools and staff. We often meet on sporting fields, which is competitive, but this was a wonderful opportunity to meet together, learn and play together; forming new friendships across communities.”
Camp participants were especially grateful to the Bogan Shire Council for providing access to the Nyngan showground and its facilities. Students and teachers camped in pavilions throughout the week, and the oval was the venue for constant games and hands-on learning. “The showground kitchen facilities were wonderful,” commented Jane van Beek, a teacher from Ravenswood, “and the generous team of ‘chefs’ from Gordon and Nyngan Uniting Churches spoiled us with tasty treats all week.”
“Everyone in Nyngan welcomed us so warmly”, she added. “Maria, Tammy and Maria in the library helped us print and laminate camp photos each day, and Donna, the Community Development Officer at Bogan Shire Council, printed a huge map of NSW so we could trace the journeys all the different schools made to come together at Nyngan.”
Judy Neale, a parent who accompanied her children from Weilmoringle Public School, said, “I think it’s important for kids to get together and enjoy activities like team sports that are not normally available to them at their schools.”
Zoe Fisher, a student from Ravenswood School, commented, “I think this camp is really important because it allows students from small schools to have interactions with students their same age.”
Alice Gough, a Year 3 student from Hermidale, who loved the painting and ceramics activities, said, “It was good fun and it was good for our learning.”
Serena Troncoso, a kindergarten student from Gwabegar, explained what she loves about dance. “Dance is the feeling in your heart. It gets faster and slower. When it changes, you change.”
Artistic learning activities included dance, drama, oil pastel drawing, watercolour painting and creating decorated clay sculptures of small animals. In science, students learned about flight by making paper models. They also created slime and sherbet using household substances. “I felt very privileged to be part of the week,” said a teacher from Pymble Ladies’ College. “I loved watching our Pymble girls in action and the way they responded very well to a new situation. But I feel we have probably learned more from the locals. Trips like this foster relationships between the schools, and we hope we can build on this and return very soon.”
Rebecca Gibson, Lauren Jones and Hannah Walsh (Year 8 students at Ravenswood School, Sydney)