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Angela Thomas (mum), daughter Hallie, and Olivia, another child on camp. Photo: Little Beacons

Camps take bush kinder to next level

A raucous bus ride to the bush. Nature trails. After-dinner stories around a crackling campfire. This sounds like your regular school camp, but it isn’t: it’s preschool, or kindy camp, as Little Beacons Learning Centre calls its new initiative.

The fact that it caters to 4-and 5-year-olds isn’t its only unusual aspect. Indigenous history and culture and environmentalism take prominence at this nature stay based in Rubicon, Victoria.

“The focus is about exposing all of our children to our indigenous history and culture … We actually have two Indigenous teachers and the children participate in Indigenous curriculum every day as part of normal practice,” said Vicki Reid, head of Little Beacons.

Parents are included in the camp, which features orienteering, boomerang painting and exploring amongst its activities. Kids are taught self-reliance by being tasked with finding their own lodges and making their own beds.

“[The children] were excited about having an overnight opportunity,” Reid related. “They were clear that they wanted to bring their sleeping bags and toothbrushes. The concept grew with the children and then with collaboration with families as well.”

Reid said parents were extremely enthusiastic about the idea: 70 percent of them were on board. As for their feedback, post-kindy camp, it was, in Reid’s words, “overwhelming”, as it gave them “time to be in the moment and connect with country”.

Little Beacons already runs a bush kinder program, so, according to Reid, kindy camp was a natural extension of this. Besides, with a trip to Kakadu in Year 9, and international travel opportunities in other high school years, kindy camp lays “good groundwork for future camps”, Reid proposed. “In early childhood, children are very competent and capable,” she stated. “You do need to look at the opportunities to explore the curriculum…for us, this was what was important for our children.”

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  1. Sounds amazing – and we would all do it if we could charge the private fees that they do and have parents whom can afford it.

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