Hillary Outdoors Builds on Home School Discovery Challenge Success

Home School students looking for an away-from-home outdoor experience can now sign up to a 2 Week Discovery Challenge at Great Barrier Island following a successful pilot run earlier this year.

“The Hillary Outdoors schools programme has continued to grow and it seemed only natural to offer the experience of a lifetime to 15-18 year old home schooled students who wouldn’t normally have access to school camps,” said Graham Seatter, Hillary Outdoors Chief Executive. “This particular programme has been designed specifically for students who are home schooled, with emphasis on facing new challenges, developing independence, new skills, fostering a strong team culture and building lasting friendships. “

The 2 Week Discovery Challenge includes activities tailored to meet individual student interests and challenges, from outdoor activities (sea kayaking, rock climbing, surf kayaking, high ropes, via ferrata, sailing, tramping, snorkelling and more), expedition opportunities (including one overnight) and Island discovery. There is also an option to undertake or get a head start on two level 2 NZQA unit standards.

Melissa Day, whose son Caleb attended the pilot from Tauranga, says the experience provided something that most home school parents would find difficult to replicate.

“I think that every child should experience being away from home, having to stretch themselves and learn to be more independent,” she said. “Caleb returned really confident about going in to a foreign environment and more assured of who he is as a person. He now recognises that opportunities are out there and it’s up to him to grab them, learning to take more ownership, be more proactive and make things happen for himself.”

“We home school four children to provide a quality holistic education that’s more than just academia, and we tailor Caleb’s education around his interests and passions, which means that we don’t have a reluctant student on our hands. This means he is able to see the relevance of what he is learning to his life and has good direction in terms of his future career path.”

Melissa said she sometimes has to work harder to create particular opportunities found in mainstream schools such as camps, and it was great to find a packaged opportunity at Hillary Outdoors that recognises the challenges and needs of home schooling families.

“The quality of what was provided was amazing – from the top quality people and programme structure through to the great location, the experience was so valuable and unique. [Participants] were well cared for in a safe and nurturing environment, and it was very comforting to know they were amongst “like minded” students. Even catering for my son’s vegan diet was not an issue.”

Melissa said she would encourage anyone thinking of sending his or her home-schooled teen on the Hillary Outdoors programme to  “just do it”

But the last word goes to Caleb: “I found that pushing my comfort zone limits is actually very easy,” he said. “I made good friends really quickly because we were together all the time and relying on each other. We made memories to last a lifetime.”

The next Hillary Outdoors 2 Week Discovery Challenge runs from 27 Jan to 9 Feb 2019. The programme costs $1600 (including GST) per student and includes all meals, accommodation, activities, instruction, technical equipment, transport from Auckland and all on-island transport. Registrations can be made online.