Bushwalking has been a passion of mine for decades. I love the Australian bush and have spent much time exploring the ridgelines and gullies of the Blue Mountains. There was a time, if I wasn’t bushwalking, I’d be planning my next expedition. As a younger and less wise young man, when I couldn’t find walking companions, I would head out solo. This is something I would never advise but like I said, I was less wise then. Solo walking is faster than walking with a group, there is no need to wait for around for others to be ready or when they need a rest break. Walking solo in remote areas delivers a special form of solitude, removing distraction and providing head space for thought. It also sharpens the mind to tread with greater care, forcing you to assess risks differently, knowing that a potential injury carries greater consequences. Despite the opportunity of moving faster when walking solo, due to this higher level of risk, there were places I would not go alone.
Putting the benefits of solo walking to one side, walking with a group delivers many benefits. Not only do you enjoy the company of others, there is help close at hand if you experience trouble, plus the lead walker and pace setter role can be shared. Members of the group can assist one another to navigate obstacles and gear can be split between packs to lighten the load. The effort is shared, and the walkers’ energy lasts longer. This enables you to explore further and experience more opportunities than if just walking solo.
Why am I writing about bushwalking in a school newsletter? Inspiration comes from an African proverb I read earlier this week. It is . . .
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
This proverb (or wise saying) speaks to the benefits of community. A school that is ‘community minded’ and ‘community active’ will go far in delivering the vision held for their students. When we exist as a community, sharing common expectations, rather than just a group of people seeking individual benefit, so much more can be achieved. While a community won’t meet each individual’s preferences, the overall benefit far outweighs what is possible with individualistic attitudes.
Community, connectedness, and sense of belonging took a massive hit, both during and after the lockdown periods. This was clearly expressed in our Term 1 School Perspectives survey. Also, principals I have met at network meetings have all shared that their schools have been impacted by the reduction of community as a result of Covid.
Thankfully, many of the community elements of our ‘normal’ school life are returning. Thinking back to April we celebrated together with the Matilda Musical and more recently the Prep – Year 2 Fun Run. These were such joyous occasions with so many families joining us.
Today I had the pleasure of eating at the ‘Lemon Tree Café’. The Lemon Tree Café is an annual event hosted by our High School Learning Support Unit students. This project-based learning program provides skill development in the context of running a café. Students learn and use skills relating to numeracy, food technology, hospitality, clear communication and customer service. Not only is the food tasty, but staff have the opportunity to mix with the students’ parents while the students provide table service. This time to relax and chat is so beneficial to building connections between school members.
Volunteers are back in force too! Not only are parent helpers joining us for excursions, but I was really encouraged by the number of positive responses to the request from Jo Barden’s call for helpers to bag up lollies in preparation for next week’s Primary Dance. Jo is President of our ‘Carey Parents and Community’ group (CPC) and is always keen to hear from those who are willing and able to help out. Volunteering with CPC is a great way to get to know other parents and join in with the life of the school. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about getting connected to the school community with CPC.
Next Friday (26th August) is the Primary Dance. This is an event we have not been able to run for a long time, so it is great to see it back on the calendar. Coinciding with the school dance, CPC will be hosting a BBQ Dinner for the parents of the Prep to Year 6 students. This will be a great opportunity to meet other parents and members of staff, reconnect and strengthen our community. I do hope you can come for a while to enjoy some food, a chat and time to get together. I look forward to the opportunity to meet with parents during the BBQ.