Beyond the Gates is one of the School’s most challenging outdoor education programmes. Over the course of three weeks, small groups of Year 10 students make their way from the gates of the School to mainland Australia’s highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko through personal endeavour.
The title ‘Beyond the Gates’ provides a metaphor for the experience being off-site, but also highlights that the personal attributes and skills we hope are developed during the programme will also stand Melbourne Grammar School students in good stead well beyond their time at School.
Students undertake intensive hiking, cycling and rafting legs through Victoria’s stunning alpine environment to reach each milestone destination. Many students will have some familiarity with these activities from previous purpose-designed outdoor education experiences, but in Beyond the Gates, participants are encouraged to push themselves and to develop their skills further.
Beyond the physical aspect, the programme is underpinned by a strong philosophical principle. Ideas of journey and discovery are central to the programme, and participants are encouraged to think carefully about identity and spirit. Many of the activities involve close collaboration, and students are encouraged to accept the challenges on offer as they work alongside peers on the 20-day journey through the High Country.
One of the most powerful experiences in the schedule is the Solo, where students spend up to 24 hours by themselves. While their Group Leaders and peers are within range, each boy has time for quiet introspection, to reflect upon the journey thus far and recover from the first portion of the adventure.
My vision was to create an experience which is far more than an outdoor experience; it will be an essential aspect of the co-curricular offering at this School. I regard this programme as an integral part of our leadership, pastoral, personal development and community service programmes.