This semester I decided to take a class called Learning in Outdoor Education. We’ve been learning about different ways that the outdoors are beneficial not only education but for life in general. But that’s not even the best part. During the semester, we take two field trips: one to Royal National Park and one to the Blue Mountains. At the end of each trip, our homework is to blog about our experience and our professor will grade it. Welcome to my blog Professor Boyle 🙂
According to John Dewey’s Experiential Learning Cycle, we participated in a 3-stage model: experience-reflection-plan. It’s important that experiential learning groups use a good model because it can lead to substantial growth, or create problems (Neill, 2010). Because the steps are simple and continuous, students continue to plan ahead by applying what is learned.
John Dewey’s 3-Stage Model
Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world. We left around 9 on 16 August and went an hour south of Sydney to hike from Bundeena to Watamolla, which is about 6 miles of hiking.
On our way into the park, we found a eucalyptus tree and my leader, Wayne, told us to roll up a leaf and stick it up our nose. It turns out that it naturally clears your sinuses and gives you energy.
We broke into smaller groups and before we started, we sat for 10 minutes for solo reflection time. Here’s a video I made from my spot:
I volunteered to lead the group part of the way and off we went. Everyone was given a map of the walk so we could all learn to navigate. My group’s instructor, Wayne, used to teach the course but is now on the administrative end. He’s from New Zealand challenged every decision I made on the path. This made me a lot more confident and as the time went on I learned to trust my newfound navigating skills as well as myself.
When we got to Marley Beach we all took our shoes off to get some good old-fashioned earthing in, which is walking on the earth with no shoes on. The waves were really rough and as we were walking, we had to be careful because there were blue bottles on the beach. Blue bottles are these little jellyfish that get washed up on the beach. Even if they’re dead, they can still sting you and it apparently it really hurts.
After stopping for lunch on Little Marley Beach, I was in charge of being the photographer (shocker I know) of the group. We had a 16-person thumb war, a running man shot, and a silly shot. Here are some of my favorites.
On the second half of the hike, someone else had a chance to lead so I lingered back a bit, especially when we got to these beautiful red rocks. It was hard letting go of the responsibility since I started as the leader but I spent a lot more time talking to the other people in my group and just taking in all the scenery.
Then we made it to this natural pool. We had been told that we would be able to swim if we wanted to but I didn’t bring my suit or towel because it was cold that morning and I told myself that if I didn’t bring my suit, I wouldn’t swim. Well I should have known better because if you know me, you know that there was no way I stayed out of that water. I got jealous of everyone swimming and jumped fully clothed into the pool. It was freezing and all efforts to pretend it was warm failed. I tried challenging the group to a race but no one wanted to get back into the cold water. That’s okay; one girl from my group challenged me to a race when we go to the Blue Mountains. Game on!
By the end of the trip, my group of 16 strangers left as a group of international friends who shared an awesome experience.
It’s amazing to me that you can go just an hour south of Sydney and be somewhere so natural and serene. It makes you realize how small you are and how little your problems matter in the grand scheme of things.
While I’ve been here, I’ve been so involved in the outdoors that I know it’s going to be hard to stop. I’m going to have to make an effort to try and stay just as active as I’ve been here. I’m in love with the mountains and I know that from now on, I’ll have to do whatever I can to be closer to them because I’m addicted.