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Wednesday Afternoon


The current Wednesday afternoon activity is a walk around Coolart wetlands. It begins at craft with groups walking to the wetlands. Then we have a sausage sizzle once we're there, before an activity which brings us all back to the campsite.

Contents



Preparation

Making sure you're prepared is pretty important for this activity as it is pretty hard to organise. Below are most of the steps you'll need to take to make a pretty awesome activity.

Walk the course

It's important to know how long it takes to get into the wetlands (for 10 study groups), do the activity and get back.

There are three ways into the wetlands from camp.
  • The beach is a nice walk, though it's the longest and most confusing route. Be sure to have people directing if you choose this route. Be sure to check the tide, and make sure you can walk it. We had a year where the beach disappeared at high tide!
  • The education camp is a fast and safe route. It does take some extra planning though as you'll need to notify them that you're coming through.
  • The road is not ideal from a safety perspective, and it's a bit ugly. There is no footpath for any of it so make sure you have leaders making sure the kids aren't fooling about.

Entry Points Map

As for the wetlands itself, there are two long walks which stretch almost to Balnarring which we have never used. They are quite long, so if you're planning on using them, time yourselves and make sure the kids can make it.

The homestead does tours, though not generally on a Wednesday. It's something we've never incorporated into the activity but it is an option.

There's no real substitute for grabbing a map and going exploring!


Notify People

Since we do the majority of this activity off site, there are two groups of people who need to be notified.
  • If you're using the education camp to get in or out, they need to know at least a month in advance for their insurance.
  • The wetlands staff should be notified as a courtesy. They do run their own kids activities, so making sure you don't clash is important.

The wetlands staff are a lovely bunch, they can tell you all kinds of good stuff if you ask them. After all, they know the park better than anyone.

In addition, it's courtesy to talk to both the cooks and slushies to make sure everyone is on the same page for the sausage sizzle.


Schedule

Groups walk at very different speeds (I mean really different) so it’s important to give yourself plenty of leeway. A rough outline of the timing would be:
11.15-11:30 Groups leave craft
12.00ish Groups arrive at Coolart
1.00 – 1.15 Groups leave on their adventure
3.00 Meet back at bbqs and walk back to camp
3.30 – 4.00 Back to camp

This is a rough schedule. A few notes.
  • You can go back to camp through the education camp or via the beach, though the timing will be different.
  • Your activity will change each year so try to walk it before camp to see how far people will go. Nothing worse than a group arriving back late and holding everyone up.
  • Make sure leaders know how long they have, and set alarms on their phones if they have to walk back. Massive time penalties for being late is a good mechanism for getting groups to be punctual.


Activity Choice

There are a few activities we have run in the past. Keeping them rotating should keep the activity fresh and mean it's a bit more fun to plan.

Photo Hunt

This last ran in 2012. Basically you take photos all over the wetlands. They're then printed for each of the groups, who then have to mark where each photo was taken on their maps.

We also added a bunch of written questions (such as how big is the lesser spotted wren, or how many posts are around the homestead).

The third thing we had this year was each group making a nature documentary while walking around the park. We never actually showed any of them due to 'technical issues'. Having groups take photos and such is a good way of making them watch out actively for the nature around them, rather than just getting focused on the activity.


Rogaining and Orienteering

Orienteering is a sport where you have to navigate to bases. Rogaining is where you can navigate to bases in any order.

We last did this in 2013. We sent out 12 leaders to act as bases, and when groups came they'd sign off that that group had been to the base. We also had an objectives system, where each group had secret objectives to do.

We spent some time making sure that groups were heading in different directions, and that they'd tag bases in different orders (so there was no 'best' order to do everything in). This cuts down queuing times. Every group knew the end time and there were penalties for being late.

This ran pretty smoothly, but the kids walked a loooooong way. The little ones were really tired.


Story and Puzzle

This activity has been run in both 2014 and 2015 to great success.

2014 had the kids trying to solve a puzzle (which was an edited version of one of the ones on http://www.logic-puzzles.org/). Each base (of which there were 5) was a scientist with an issue, and a clue as to who stole a monkey. The kids had to solve the issue and would then get the clue. Once back at the camp they raced to solve the puzzle, which 4 of the groups managed. It wasn't an easy puzzle!

2015 - This was an activity where the kids where a bunch of numbers on their map and had to find the leaders at certain locations. As this was Hollywood themed, each checkpoint leader imitated another leader (using acting to tie in the theme). Once the groups had completed a group activity, the checkpoint leader then handed the groups a piece of a script. Once the kids had been to all the checkpoints they were able to piece together their scripts and read the play which was based on Somers.

2016 was Olympic themed, with each of 5 bases having an Olympic event based activity. On completion of the base, they were given an Olympic ring. After collecting all 5, groups went to a final 6th base were they did a final activity to learn a "secret" final location which was the bbq area. After all groups had returned we walked back to camp via the road.

Note on characters: It makes a massive difference to the kids enjoyment if you instruct leaders to never break character. Even to other leaders they should stay in the role they've been given. We did this and it was awesome. Really commit to it!


Respecting the Park

The park is amazingly beautiful if you take the time to look. When planning activities, try and get the kids looking at what’s around them. You can really work a neat bible message into this if you want to take the opportunity.

One of the things to be very aware of is the birdwatchers and such. You have to be somewhat quiet in the park so as not to spook the birds and other wildlife. It is really important not to plan any activity that could be noisy anywhere near the lakes/hides.



Wet Weather

Dress appropriately. There is no back up plan.
There is always time for trivia when the kids get back to camp|

Risk Assessment

You need to be aware that kids will try and venture off paths, use the change of scenery as an excuse to play up and some will refuse to walk around. If in doubt... Camp Troll loves to deal with these kids :)

History

As far as we know Wednesday was always a beach walk. We'd walk down to Balnarring shops and each kid would get to spend a couple of dollars at the milk bar. We'd have a sausage sizzle and play octopus, then (weather permitting) have a sandcastle competition before walking back to camp.

This wound up becoming less viable thanks to a number of things. The high tide got to a point where there wasn't really a beach to walk down, we got rained on a number of years in a row (without adequate coats), and the little kids always got really tired.

One thing to note is that this was always when concert acts were planned, as you'd have heaps of time to chat. There isn't the same gap anymore.

We ran a disco and some short activities a whole bunch of times before finding Coolart Wetlands in 2012.
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