Where I’ve been

I have just spent six days at Carnarvon Gorge helping the staff of a local Boys college run an environment studies bush week. I am often caught criticizing the education system including the input of teachers and output of young Australians but must give credit where credit is due and in this case do it gladly. The teachers worked very hard, sometimes up to 20 hours a day, leading the boys up ravines, along cliffs and high ridges. The entire exercise is one of learning about the environment, aborigines and their culture and the boys own self worth. Time spent around the campfire at night was devoted to assessing each boy and approaching his personal and academic advancement in a positive light. If you read boys college and think 'privileged' don't. A lot of parents work two or more jobs to have their sons attend this college and whereas one boy might be the son of a wealthy businessman, the boy along side is not. The boys are only privileged insofar as their parents strongly believe in education Another pleasing aspect was the presence of fathers and others who had once had an association with the college who gave a up a week of their busy live to travel on a 1600 km round trip at their own expense to help guide and provide role models for the boys. Company Directors, Tradesman, a 79 year old ex Luftwaffe technician, a publican who has recently divested himself of his hotel and a brace of young 'old boy' uni students. Such is the committment of those who believe in education. I contributed by helping to run the Base Camp. My legs, and more recently, my right arm, are beyond their use-by date so leading boys up ravines onto high ridges is beyond me. But hey, I can now enjoy the life of a base soldier. I was thanked for my help but the abiding bottom line is that I am a better person for having witnessed this dedication to our youth and I congratulate all who attended- particularly the leaders. While there I met an old mate from Army Days who, with his wife, had spent some days on bush walks. When I told them I was with the schoolboys they were generous with their praise of these 15 year olds, who, to a boy, had looked up on their weary climb up the gorge and exchanged pleasantries, said Hullo, how are you? Great place isn't it? Did you see the echidna down the track? Best praise of all - unsolicited. My background leads me to be critical and demanding but I have no criticisms and would only demand you consider sending your boys to Nudgee College, Brisbane They would be in good hands.

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