St Stephen’s School has celebrated the purchase of a new campsite with a community open day inviting students and families to tour the grounds and dream of its future possibilities.
Located in Dwellingup, close to Scotch College’s – another Uniting Church School – Moray campsite, Trinity College’s Camp Kelly and the Nanga Bush Camp, the site is 46 hectares of land with exciting developmental opportunities.
Tony George, Principal of St Stephen’s School, said they chose to purchase the property because of its natural features which will enhance the school’s already existing outdoor education program, including 800m of Murray River frontage, extensive native forest and its access to both the Munda Biddi Trail and Bibbulmun Track.
The camp’s location close to the historic town of Dwellingup will provide students with an opportunity to learn more about the land. Dr Phil Ridden, who has recently written a history of the school, is now writing a history of the site so that visitors might have a better understanding of the connection Australia’s Aboriginal people have with the land.
“It helps our students connect with white settlement but more importantly with the Indigenous people,” Tony said.
“White Australia tends to trivialise the Aboriginal connection to the land. We see land as a thing to be exploited rather than an important place to find our identity.”
Tony is hoping that, through the book and campsite, students will be able to explore this concept.
There are also hopes for a research centre where science students will be able to study the waterway; a facilitation which will be used by the school’s Rite Journey program inviting year 9 students to camp at the site for two weeks as part of the course; and school camps involving canoeing, bushwalking and other adventurous activities. Tony also said the school hopes to be able to share the facility with other Uniting Church schools, and the wider Uniting Church community.
“We hope it will be a place of relational and community significance,” Tony said.
“It’s a significant blessing for the school. An opportunity like this only comes through once in a lifetime. Our plans to develop it will be over the next three years – who knows what will develop over the next 50 years!”