June 6, 2024

Wilderness School’s second campus on the Coorong a rare offering

At Wilderness School, girls from ELC to Year 12 have unparalleled opportunity for learning beyond the classroom.

Unlike most other schools, the Wilderness outdoor education program is run by a dedicated School team, rather than an external provider, and includes on-site learning at the School’s very own second campus located on the banks of the Coorong.

Known as the Crawford Campus after the late Diana Crawford, it’s an utterly unique offering among South Australian girls’ schools.

“When you look out you see nothing but sand dunes and the Coorong. When we go paddling, we are the only people there,” said Wilderness School Head of Middle School Dr Rhiannon Giles. “There is nothing quite like it.”

Wilderness Year 5 girls spend two nights at Crawford and use it as a base for camping in the nearby National Park.

From Year 7, the girls experience the Crawford Campus in their House group. “The bonding opportunities are endless,” said Acting Head of Outdoor Education Rosie Smith.

The pinnacle program is in Year 9 with the three-week camp known as REALISE. Students live at Crawford for 21 days, and every girl does the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) – a global youth awards program recognising young adults for completing a series of growth challenges.

“We are so proud to offer world-class outdoor education opportunities like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and so proud to be the only school to run outdoor education in-house and on our very own campus,” said Wilderness School Principal Belinda Arnfield.

“This is intentional and important to us. It gives us the chance to embed our values, to see the development of the girls, and to design programs in response to their needs.”

Beyond the Coorong, Wilderness girls are exploring everywhere from Morialta Conservation Park to Kingston Beach to the Grampians, bringing to life adventures from favourite books – think We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Outdoor education is compulsory at Wilderness from Reception to Year 9. For those who want to extend, and plenty do, there are the Silver and Gold DofE, including treks as far away as Tasmania or Nepal.

As if all this weren’t enough, Wilderness girls are also doing real life conservation work.

The Crawford Campus is home to the SEEDS Project, a collaboration with the Botanic Gardens of South Australia where girls are working to save the vital and endangered Spyridium plant from extinction, through collecting, processing and propagating seeds.

Dr Giles explained how the work has already created tremendous real world impact.

What’s the outcome of all this?

“Facing their fears and challenging themselves to overcome obstacles,” said Principal Arnfield. “Year after year, girls tell us these are lessons that will stick with them for life.”

Visit wilderness.com.au for more information or to book a tour.


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