Right through their time at school, students at Raphael House participate in a graduated and rich curriculum of outdoor education. These camps start locally and extend eventually to a wide variety of environments in New Zealand. They will include a “Greek Olympics” camp, geology and environmental studies, skiing, river rafting, farming, biking, work experience, surveying, rites of passage camps and challenging multi-day tramps.

At Raphael House we regard camps and outdoor activities as an essential aspect of a healthy and balanced education, encouraging physical fitness, self-reliance and teamwork, where Nature requires engagement, and so becomes the teacher. Past students often refer to the camps as a highlight of their many memories of the school.

Summary of Outdoor Education and Camps

Class 3First overnight camp at a local forest park
Class 4Castlepoint exploration camp
Class 5Greek Olympics camp with other New Zealand Waldorf schools
Class 6Ruakokopatuna geology camp in the Wairarapa
Class 7Skiing Camp on Mount Ruapehu
Class 8Bike and adventure camp in the Wairarapa7 day Threshold camp in the Tararua Mountain Range
Class 9Geology Camp at National ParkFind your Limits Camp in the Tararua Mountain RangeTwo weeks farming placement
Class 10New Zealand History Wanganui River CampSurvey Camp in Hawkes Bay or WairarapaTwo weeks Community Service placement
Class 11Abel Tasman CampWork experience placement
Class 12Lake Waikaremoana CampRite of Passage Camp

Upper School Education Outside the Classroom in more detail

Class 8

At the start of the year the Adventure camp includes a variety of activities such as biking, white water rafting, caving and abseiling. At the end of the year they prepare for the Threshold camp which is their rite of passage into the Upper School and leave their childhood behind. This camp is full of physical challenges, social activities and poignant symbolic elements that have been carefully crafted to become a jewel in the pathway of the students through the school.

Class 9

A culmination of the Geology main lesson for Class 9 is the Tongariro camp. It that leads them into alpine conditions for an up close look into the extreme geological processes of volcanism and erosion. The students climb active volcanoes to see turquoise crater lakes, stand in steam vents, run down scree slopes and throw snow balls. This is a journey to the heart of New Zealand’s’ tapu or sacred mountains.

In the middle of the year Class 9 students participate in a two-week Farm Experience if possible on a sustainable or organic farm. At the end of the year they are called to “Find their Limits” on a challenging trek over the Tararuas. This is a multi-day tramp from Cow Creek up to the heights of Jumbo hut where they watch the Sun rise over the Tasman Sea and the Wairarapa plains, then onto Mount Holdsworth and home.

Class 10

Start the year with a trip into New Zealand history as they canoe down the Wanganui River over several days and are invited to overnight at a Marai. In the middle of the year each Class 10 student contributes socially to a therapeutic or educational organisation during a two-week Community Service placement. At the end of the year they undertake a surveying project in the Hawkes Bay.

Class 11

The Abel Tasman track is the outdoor goal for Class 11 early in the year. In the middle of the year they are given a work experience placement or are selected to return to the Threshold camp with the adult team in service of the class 8 students. Class 11 are also tasked with organising the Talent show and the School Ball.

Class 12

The first camp is a trip to the historic Te Urewera National Park and a tramp around the shores of Lake Waikaremoana. After their Class 12 project presentations the students are taken to Tora on the East coast of New Zealand for their Rite of Passage Camp. Here the class echo’s the Threshold camp and prepare for their entry into the adult world with workshops and nature experiences designed to bring resilience and self- knowledge.

At the end of class 12 there are several different opportunities for students to reflect on the journey of their schooling. At this time it is evident each and every year that the camps have played an important and formative aspect to Raphael Houses bespoke education.