What is outdoor education?

Outdoor education, or field studies, are an important aspect of boys’ learning, teaching them essential life skills by engaging with the natural environment in fun and challenging outdoor learning activities. This experiential teaching is completed outside of the classroom and focusses on building relationships, promoting self-management and resourcefulness and developing physical agility.

Trinity Grammar School was the first school in Australia to provide off-campus education, and for more than 100 years, it has educated boys in mind, body and spirit, using field studies to enhance the boys’ education from Year 3 onwards. Outdoor education is particularly important for boys as it channels their energy rather than stifling it. Year 6 Trinity boys share their thoughts about their field studies experiences in these reflections.

Benefits of outdoor education

What are the benefits of outdoor education?

For some, the idea of outdoor learning may seem insignificant when compared to the teachings conducted within a classroom. However, outdoor education and field studies present many benefits for students as they increase physical activity, extend teaching and learning beyond the classroom, and push learning boundaries to challenge thinking.  The main benefits, include social, emotional, spiritual and physical growth and development.

Students participate in experiential learning opportunities that develop the following skills:

Thinking  Creativity
Independence Research
Communication Physical agility
Resourcefulness Leadership
Social Bush craft
Resilience Teamwork
Self-management Movement

Enabling boys to participate in outdoor adventures and live together in community can help form lasting friendships, enhance social skills and promote independence, and mental and spiritual health.

At a time when computer-based learning is prevalent, education in the outdoors offers many benefits, namely helping to nurture and challenge boys, and build self-esteem and confidence. By using outdoor experiences, students can identify their strengths and weaknesses, often easier than in a classroom, enabling them to develop and grow in a positive way.

Field studies

Trinity’s Primary Years Field Studies Programmes

In the Primary Years, Field Studies take different forms, covering a variety of activities designed to give our younger boys an experience of living in community, away from home, developing independence, facing challenges and experiencing outdoor activities.

Field studies for boys in Years 3 to 6 include a focussed curriculum experience in art, sport, language and culture. Some camps allow our Preparatory and Junior School campuses to come together. Our Year 6 boys cite camp as one of their primary years highlights. You can read some reflections here.

Why boys need an education in the outdoors

Trinity’s Year 9 Residential Programme

Since 1993, Trinity has run the extended Residential Programme focussing on community living, reflection and outdoor education for Year 9 boys. The Programme is designed to include adventure activities, academic study, community service and reflections on the Christian values of the School, marking the transition from boyhood to manhood.

During the four-week Year 9 Residential Programme, the aim is to create a small community in which boys are allowed to reflect upon the wonder of Creation and, on the threshold of manhood, focus upon and begin to clarify their view of life. This is made possible through the academic, pastoral, spiritual and physical pursuits offered within a remote and stimulating environment. Hear from Year 9 students about their Year 9 Residential Programme experience here and here.

Field studies centre

Facilities at Trinity’s Field Studies Centre

Field studies have always played a key role in a Trinity education. Our state-of-the-art Trinity Field Studies Centre opened in 2016 and encourages boys to hone their skills in areas such as problem solving, teamwork, organisation, and leadership. By providing these valuable life skills, boys are better equipped when dealing with life challenges, with the mental health benefits of field studies being well documented.

Based at Woollamia on the NSW South Coast, the Trinity Field Studies Centre is located in the beautiful Jervis Bay region and is designed to enhance the School’s holistic approach to boys’ education, allowing students to learn about the local area and understand their responsibilities as custodians of the unique environment surrounding them. Bounded by three freshwater wetland areas and the Woollamia Nature Reserve, students can immerse themselves in flora and fauna, which includes threatened species of owls, cockatoos, bats and gliders.

The outdoor education facilities cater for many activities to keep the boys entertained and stimulated with abseiling, canoeing, camping, bush craft and mountain biking being just a few of the options available. But it’s not just outdoor activities the boys can engage in as they are also expected to keep up with their usual classroom-based topics such as Mathematics, Geography and History.

To find out more about outdoor education at Trinity, download the Field Studies brochure.