Field Centre Experiences

With thanks to student reporter, Sarah Evans

Field Centre (8)_1.JPGField Centre is a rite of passage for us. Many past and senior students I have talked to always say Field Centre is one of the highlights of their time here at the College. It’s a time where we meet new people, strengthen bonds with the friends we have and see another side to our teachers. It’s a tough time, a time where we learn about ourselves both physically and mentally, to know where we stand with ourselves and with others. It’s a time where we grow and learn.

With the stress of exams over, our last Friday before Field Centre was our dreaded 11km run, tent and final gear check. Note to self: big, heavy tramping packs do not fit well on a bus! Before our school day ended, all the Year 10’s gathered in the Chapel for a presentation from Mr Cole. He told us where we were going was a hostile environment, to look out for ourselves and for others and to take this opportunity as life experience. Needless to say, every one of us was excited and just a little scared to see what Field Centre had in store for us.

By the time the next Thursday rolled around the first five lodge groups (Levin, Boomerang, Graduates, Te Horonuku and Alpine Sports) were ready and eager to get down and settle in. The remaining five groups (Ngauruahoe, Snowline, Summit, Rotorua and Tongariro) were leaving on the Friday. The bus ride was a long 6 hours with two stops in Matamata and Taupo. Our bus ride was entertaining with singing and lots of laugher. My lodge group was the mighty Boomerang. After dinner we were told what our next day’s activity was, climbing up to the summit of Mount Ruapehu.

With the weather perfect and conditions on the mountain more than adequate, we set out for our expedition to the summit of Ruapehu. We started off by climbing up volcanic rocks, higher and higher until we came to snow. The weather changed pretty quickly, getting colder and colder and by the time we stopped for morning tea we were reaching for our polar fleeces, gloves and beanies. We ended up sheltering for lunch as the weather took a turn for the worse and the decision was made to start making our way back down, 20 metres from the summit. We were all a little disappointed but the quickest and fastest way to get down was on our pack liners at breakneck speeds. Most of the time you weren’t actually on your pack liner, you were body surfing down, snow going everywhere, crashing into everyone and in general, having a lot of fun and lots of laughs.

Field Centre (14)_1.JPGThe weather stayed perfect for our next day, which was the start of our three day tramp. We were dropped off at the Chateau, our packs on our backs and all looking forward to what we considered a walk in the park. As we walked, we chatted and sang songs but it did not last long, we soon grew quite tired. Our packs seemed to get heavier and the hours dragged on. Eventually we got to our campsite, seven long hours of tramping later. I do not think any of us were more pleased and willingly set up our tents, cooked our pasta and got into our sleeping bags. I think the second day was the hardest, having to put our packs back onto our sore shoulders, sore from sleeping on uneven ground and basically knowing that you have to walk for hours on end. One of my highlights was going to a fast running stream where the water was safe enough to drink without treating it, some of the best tasting water I’ve ever had! We tramped for an extra hour and a half so that our last day would be the easiest and also so we could beat the boys lodge back to the transit vans!

We camped at Lower Tama where we enjoyed swimming and a friendly game of spotlight. On our last day, we only had to tramp for about 3 hours, stopping for lunch at a waterfall. As soon as the boys’ lodge came into view we all packed up and started running for the hills, literally, they weren’t going to beat us back! We walked for about 45 minutes which brought us back to civilisation. Back at Boomerang Lodge, we were all treated to chocolate cake and pizza bread made by our cook, Steph. We all really enjoyed our 4-minute shower and a good night’s sleep in an actual bed.

The next morning we enjoyed a lovely cooked breakfast whilst making plans to go down to Hidden Valley to do some team building exercises. We stopped for morning tea where we had to run up a concrete slab for sour bears and use a billy and rope to collect water in the fastest time. Some teams ended up going for an unexpected swim! We waded into a river, walked up stream for a while which ended up at a magnificent waterfall where many of us enjoyed a swim. We were driven to our campsite where we had fish and chips as our sausages had gone off, and roasted bananas with chocolate and toasted marshmallows round the campfire. This campsite was my favourite as you had the sound of the stream which was really peaceful, as well as a port-a-loo, no more asking for the shovel!

Field Centre (9)_1.JPGOur last day was spent mountain biking in the morning and then white water rafting. Unfortunately we had a couple of crashes with the mountain biking, thus leaving a few people unable to white water raft. Of those that did raft, an enjoyable time was had; some even saying the course was too easy! Our last night was spent in the comfort of our lodge, playing the chocolate game and stuffing our faces with marshmallows. We had a prize giving where we all received our badges, a reminder that we had indeed completed and survived Field Centre 2010. We all had mixed emotions. We were sad to be leaving, happy though that we were going home and each in our own way, overcome some of our fears.

On behalf of all the Year 10 students, I would like to say thank you to all the staff who were associated with Field Centre. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to experience this wonderful, once in a life time opportunity that I know I will cherish in the years to come. At the time it seems like the toughest thing in your life, but looking back, that mountain wasn’t really a mountain, we climbed up it, we survived a week without our cell phones and laptops, the very same things that we all say we can’t live without. The teachers have all seen a different side to us, and we have all definately seen a different side to the teachers, they aren’t as scary as you may think! I hope next year’s Year 10’s are looking forward to Field Centre and they take this opportunity in both hands and run with it. It is definitely the highlight of my College year.