Outdoor Education South Africa
Our Outdoor Education
Our location in the Elgin Valley amidst apple and pear orchards, grape vineyards and natural fynbos offers our children the opportunity to be connected to nature as few other schools can. The children are able to observe first-hand the human-nature interaction and how man shapes his environment. Our outdoor education programme is made up of many facets: camps; day excursions; hikes; farm visits; Mountain to Coast and sustainable environmental practices at school.
This unique outdoor challenge faces the Grade 7 class during the second term of each year. It involves each child participating in a five day journey starting in the Langeberg mountains outside of Heidelberg and ending at the sea at Cape Infanta.
The challenge starts with the children hiking up the Groot Vaders Bosch river to the Groot Vaders Bosch forestry station. The next two days are spent cycling the back roads of the Eden District to the pont at Malgas on the Breede River. Here the pupils exchange their bicycles for kayaks and spend the next day paddling down the Breede River. The final day sees them once again in the saddle cycling to Infanta.
During the expedition the children are divided into groups of approximately six children with one staff member. Two back up vehicles support the group. Each child takes a turn to lead their group and all cooking and cleaning are done by the children. Along the way the team camp at designated campsites or on farmland.
The total distance covered is approximately 139 kilometers in real terms and about three years in experience!
All children, from Grade 2 to Grade 7, go on a school camp at least once a year, preferably once a term. The camps are offered at a variety of venues in the Helderberg and Overberg districts and require the children to spend one or more nights away from home. The aim of the class camps programme is to afford the children an opportunity to develop independence, social and problem-solving skills and a greater sense of self-knowledge.
The relevant class teacher accompanies their class and is assisted by camp facilitators throughout the duration of the camp.
The cost of the camps is included in the fees as part of the Outings Levy.
Across the grades the children at Applewood are taken on a variety of hikes in the mountains and farmlands surrounding the Elgin Valley. The hikes form part of their regular curriculum during which they explore topics associated with that particular area of their curriculum.
The hikes may be day hikes or overnight hikes and the children are accompanied by their class teacher and at least one other adult.
Being surrounded by the major apple, pear and grape producing farms in South Africa provides the children with ample opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge learnt in their curriculum. Across the grades farm visits add value to the curriculum. The children learn about agricultural production first hand. While preserving olives, crushing grapes, picking apples and pears, packing fruit and bottling their own wine the children are active participants in the entire process of life that surrounds our school.
Children at Applewood learn and practise daily what it means to live sustainably. Grade 3 sees the start of a programme where the children apply skills learnt in Maths and Science and the Arts to the development of an indigenous and seasonal vegetable and herb garden. Here they learn how to grow and rotate crops and to improve soil quality with natural herbs and composts.
Recycling is second nature to children at Applewood. They learn the difficulties of managing our own waste and minimising our impact on the future.