Saturday, 29 December 2007

Failed Internet Bookings, Community Projects and Mountain Biking

I have managed to get away from the City of Sails for the summer break. Oh the holidays! I travel south to the Garden City for some time to think, work on my scheme for the next year, to get some different ideas for units of work and get away from the rat race of work. I reflect on the year that was and what next year could be.

I normally travel south down the Island visiting various people and places along the way. However this time I have headed west to a small alpine village called Hanmer Springs. I came here six years ago through the Outdoor Education papers at Teachers College, where we walked the tracks, had a shower under a waterfall and had to plan and run a full day Outdoor Education programme with students from around the area. This has turned out to be an interesting experience coming back.

I booked my accommodation online, and should have realized something was wrong when I didn’t get a confirmation email from them, however being the time of year I though, oh they are just busy. I should have rang. I turned up to the top 10 mountainview holiday park expecting to have a tent site sorted, instead they wonder who I am and once they hear that I booked through the internet, they said “not another one, this is the fifth time its happened in the last couple of days, we haven’t been getting bookings from the internet, we need to get it sorted out” and me thinking, “its not my fault, do you have a tent site”. They had a tent site for one night and couldn’t fit me in for any more nights. So, its do I go back home, or find other accommodation. Right lets see what is round here. I find myself at the Hanmer Springs Forest Camp for four nights.

I have been and had a look around the camp and to be honest it hasn’t changed much. It has had new buildings which are cabins, however they were here last time. The old huts have had a paint job, and some more silver birch trees have been planted at the tent sites. It is good facilities and a large area to play, pity I don’t have a frisbee in the car, I wouldn’t be able to hit anything.

But why blog about this, I found a sign near the camp track which got me thinking. It explains that the camp track was built by Shirley High School Six form students in 1983 as a community project. (The camp track is a 1-2km walking track between the Forest Camp, which used to be a education centre and the Department of Conservation Information centre on the outskirts of Hanmer Springs in the historic forest) This has gotten me thinking about other school community based projects. In Christchurch there is a bridge built by Burnside High Students students at “The Groynes”. Where are these projects now. Will the new curriculum help get some of these projects off the ground again, or has the governments Resource Management Act, or the Health and Safety Act killed off these projects. The skills that these students learnt through these community based projects would have been, planning, design, building, evaluation and teamwork. Some of these are found in projects carried out at school. But to get students away from a school environment and out into the community is fantastic. In the following years those students would have gone back to the project and seen how it grew, changed, and is now used and would have said to their families, “I helped create that”. The amount of pleasure they must feel when they see it used now.

What other projects are there out in the community that schools help to create?

As I think about this, I start to see little educational projects, tree planting down a stream to show riparian planting and how it creates an environment that helps insect life and stream life improve, the worm farms that show students that they don’t have to throw everything away, recycling schemes that help the family at home with their green bin each week. Sustainability, is where this comes in, and environment. Litter campaigns to get the students to put it in the bin, this has been going for 18 years now and it still hasn’t hit through, and slip, slop, slap, put a hat on at school. But I guess my main point was where is the big projects that schools become involved in.

I find it difficult in my area of Technology ICT, can I say the same, probably due to the changing nature of ICT, in 1983 there wasn’t the internet, and computers were expensive and connecting them to each using ethernet. Not really, It is the hard materials that these type of projects get done, and with so many jobs in the education gazette crying out for technology teachers that this type of community project has probably been killed off, probably as well as the subject. Other groups that the seniors might get this type of project out of would the be environmental group at the school, or at out school the ki wanis,

As for me, tomorrow brings the Mountain Biking tracks of Hanmer, tracks like Dog Stream, Tank, and Detox. Then to take a load off in the thermal springs that Hanmer is famous for.

A hint: Purchase the Mountain Bike map from the local i-Site, the proceeds go towards maintaining and building new tracks in the Hanmer Springs area.

I also have been trying to find a wireless connection in Hanmer Springs to be able to check my email to see whether that a certain conformation email has come through. (It hasn’t) I have a copy of the Telecom Wireless Hotspots for New Zealand and there is one at the Heritage Hotel, however since I am not a resident of the hotel I have managed to find a location outside it on Jollies Pass Road, beside a walkway to gain access to the Telecom Wireless Hotspot. Pity that I was attacked by mozzies in the process of checking my email. I would have had a wireless connection at the top 10 mountain holiday park as they have wireless throughout the whole park. Oh Well, I am on Holiday.

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