© Debbie Dunn
In November 2003 a bunch of us went down to Camp Coorong www.ngarrindjeri.net . People came from all around : Gawler, Mannum, Hackham & Yankalilla to name a few. Camp Coorong was an excellent location for a home schooling camp as there was no-one else around, no busy roads to worry about or water nearby.
All this meant that the children had total freedom to use and explore the space without the adults having to be constantly alert. The children used this to full advantage, developing some very innovative and complex scenarios in their play - mainly revolving around "guns" as there was a plethora of toy guns and boys on the camp! We also saw the hall turned into a " chair roadway" and when this got boring, into a "chair maze". The older children demonstrated a great deal of sensitivity to the younger children and made sure everyone had a fair go and that the game stayed safe.
Stephanie & David very kindly brought down canoes for us all to use. As it turned out, only David was brave enough (or energetic enough) to go out but he took all the children who wanted a go for a paddle around Lake Albert while the rest of us soaked up the sun and watched the children play and swim. He was nominated "Dad of the Day"!
On the Friday night, the adults gathered for an informative discussion with Matt Rigney about Aboriginal History since the arrival of the European Settlers. I for one experienced a major paradigm shift as a result of listening to his views and the views of others at the camp. It became very clear to me how interconnected land and religion is for the aboriginal people. You can take a Buddhist from the top of the Himalayas and put him on Uluru and he would still be able to perform his religious rites but if you took an Aboriginal man from this region and did the reverse, he would be unable to continue his religious practices. So, the whole mission system established for indigenous people when settlers arrived, really destroyed tribal identity and religions by taking people from their traditional lands and mixing everything up. I know this is not a political forum but I thought I'd mention this as I have found home schooling has led to as many learning opportunities for me as it has my children.
The next morning we all gathered for a guided walk through the Coorong bush. We chomped leaves that where hotter than chilli and others that tasted like salted snow peas. A blue tongued lizard ventured across our path and was scooped up by our guide. The children enjoyed touching it while we discovered that Aboriginal tribes keep these lizards as pets because they kill snakes.
The children also discovered a smaller lizard while off exploring. Many tried to get this little guy to climb on their hand but only one succeeded. He was very proud to pose for a number of photos before the lizard was set on its merry way.
All through the weekend there was so lots of opportunity to share ideas about home schooling but the other topics covered ranged far and wide. A few of us noted that despite the diversity among us in many ways, we had a lot of ideas in common and a respect for each others ideas when they differed.
But the thing that made the camp so very special for me was the sense of community and shared experience that we all carried back with us to our various locations. We all know each other at a much deeper, more real level - both adults and children and good friendships have been forged.
Please visit www.ngarrindjeri.net for more information about Camp Coorong.
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