An Australianfirst — 75 yearsof OutdoorEducation(1947–2022)
2022 marked the 75th anniversary of Outdoor Education at Hutchins, as well as the 35th anniversary of the opening of the School’s Outdoor Education facility, the Stephen Hay Memorial Park at Southport. This timeline illustrates the School’s pioneering of Outdoor Education as a strand of general education in schools across Australia, from the construction of a bush hut at Chauncy Vale in 1947.
Under Headmaster Paul Radford, Hutchins led the nation in establishing an Outdoor Education facility at Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary. Following the offer from Mr Anton Chauncy of a bush site at his wildlife sanctuary at Chauncy Vale in Tasmania’s midlands, a hut was constructed by Form V boys under the leadership of teacher Gordon Jones. The 25 feet by 11 feet cabin, accommodating eight bunks in two tiers (with extra bodies relegated to camp stretchers), was officially opened by President of the Parents’ Association, M Gibson, on 27 July.
Although the hut later burned down in a bushfire, the Chauncy Vale site was used by Hutchins Cadets in the mid-1960s for adventure training. By the mid-1970s the property had been willed to the University of Tasmania and the School was forced to apply for permission to use the land for outdoor activities.
On 27 July 1997 a group of the surviving builders, including former teacher Gordon Jones, held a ceremony at Chauncy Vale and unveiled a dry-stone cairn marking the site of the original hut.
Concern about the increasing popularity of matriculation colleges resulted in a staff conference on ‘outdoor education’.
Six acres of land at Southport were donated to the School by Mr and Mrs Wynne Hay in memory of their son. The Stephen Hay Memorial Park was officially named by Mrs Inez Hay and handed over to The Hutchins Foundation at a ceremony on 4 December 1981.
SRC fundraising led to the provision of six canoes for the Southport camp.
Southport building reached roof level by October, under the supervision of the Head of the Technical and Craft Department, Don Wilson. By the end of that year, development of the Hutchins Outdoor Education facility was nearing completion on the original block of land; by this time an adjoining seven-acre block had been leased.
First use of the new Outdoor Education facility was made by Form II camp in April, followed in May by a Form V camp for 119 students — for which six students cycled all the way to and from Southport. At this time only Forms II and V used the facility and were accommodated in tents on the green paddock.
The Stephen Hay Memorial Park was completed and handed over to the School at a function at Southport on 8 March. Three cabins for boys and one for staff/parents were built by Wynne Hay, Don Wilson and teacher Thom Turbett, working from dawn till dusk over the summer of 1986–87. An amenities block was also built and paid for by the School.
Compulsory camps were conducted for Years 3–9 at Southport. The introduction of a new subject, Sports and Recreational Study, saw the Southport facility being used for an extended Year 8 program.
The Southport facility was augmented by the purchase of a further eight acres and a shack. A Friendship Camp held for Year 7 boys experiencing difficulty in establishing peer relationships was judged an outstanding success. 45 students, 12 teachers and four Board of Education officials from Japan stayed at the Southport Outdoor Education facility as part of the Toshima Exchange pilot visit.
50 years of Outdoor Education at Hutchins was celebrated with a visit to the former Chauncy Vale site by former students and teacher Gordon Jones who built the hut in 1947. A plaque was unveiled on the site which remains today.
Building extensions at Southport; former Board Chairman Picton Hay provided materials and organised the labour to build the bricked outdoor area. The road through the middle of the land was purchased, the area was fenced, a house on the corner was sold and moves were made to acquire the freehold title to the land.
Beginning in 2004, Head of Middle School, Ian McQueen led his staff in their Professional Development program by spending the first week of the school year at the Southport facility. Year 8 camps were also held annually as an introduction to the school year.
Establishment of the Power of 9 program. ‘With the Expedition element in place, work was undertaken on getting everything up and running for the inaugural year in 2011. Uniforms were designed, experiential learning curriculum was written, and the former chandlery in Marieville Esplanade as transformed into a flexible classroom and home base’ (S McAloon, Magenta and Black, Summer 2020).
70 years of Outdoor Education at Hutchins was celebrated in Magenta and Black, June 2017 with the words ‘Outdoor Education camps continue to provide students with the opportunity to develop their individual strengths and challenge their ‘comfort zone’ through engagement in physically, mentally and socially challenging activities. A major objective for these camps is to develop a sense of adventure, understand safety and manage risk, to develop independence and foster personal growth.’
The Year 7 Character Development Camp was shortlisted for the National Outdoor Education Association Program of the Year Award.
The Outdoor Education and Power of 9 faculties continue to offer and develop programs with both strong support from the School and its community of staff, students, past-students and parents/carers. Programs aim to development students’ ability to face personal challenges and character development, endurance, teamwork and understanding of human interactions with landscapes over thousands of years. As at 2022, the program consists of the Year 2 Big Day Out, Years 3–8 camps, Power of 9 Challenges, Year 10 Outdoor Education (elective), Year 11/12 Outdoor Leadership (pre-tertiary), Year 11/12 Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation, Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and the Years 7–12 Ski Tour (Australia/New Zealand).
This timeline was originally created by Margaret Mason-Cox, Archivist/Historian and was published in Magenta and Black, June 2017. It has been amended slightly and added to ensuring the years between 2018–2022 have been captured.