Venture immersion and tornado experience take boys Beyond Queenslea Drive
Since its introduction in 2006, Beyond Queenslea Drive has given Year 10 boys a rare opportunity to ‘immerse’ themselves into school environments around the world. In 2011, the programme was thrilled to offer two boys an opportunity to attend New Zealand’s Tihoi Venture School.
Tom Wambeek (Year 10) said he knew immediately that Tihoi was the immersion school for him. “My dad had been to Timbertop and said how great it was, and my mum had boarded back in England. I picked it straight away,” he said.
At Tihoi, Year 10 boys spend 18 weeks at the venture school campus as part of their St Paul’s Collegiate School education combining academic education alongside outdoor pursuits. Tom’s immersion, which started out as one term, grew to two terms so he could complete the half-year programme. He did so with flying colours. At the end of the programme, he won the sea kayaking prize, was a member of the winning house and was nominated for the most outstanding student.
Living in basic accommodation, where the prized conveniences were the toaster and radio, boys lived in houses of eight where they cleaned, cooked and chopped their own wood. They attended core subject classes during the morning with outdoor education-focussed courses and activities in the afternoons.
While challenging at times, Tom rated the experience highly – in particular the outdoor weekend activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, sea kayaking and caving, and the final, weeklong expedition where he sea-kayaked around the Marlborough Sounds. “We watched seals on the rocks dive into the water and swim beneath us – it was amazing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Andrew Stewart (Year 10) was experiencing nature’s fury on the other side of the world. Not many Perth schoolboys could list experiencing a tornado among their childhood memories. However, Andrew will never forget being stuck in Chevrolet 4x4 Suburban, packed with 10 people, as he felt the impact from a tornado in Richmond, Virginia.
Andrew was on a six-week exchange at St Christopher’s School, when a weekend scout hike took a turn for the worse. “When the winds started to pick up, we piled back into the car along with some extra hikers, who were stranded. The car battery was dead so we had to stay where we were. We could see the funnel about a mile away but we weren’t hit. The wind was rocking the car and mud was flying around. There were 10 of us stuck in the car for three hours – everyone was fine but the car was damaged,” he said.
Another experience he found quite unfamiliar was a hunting trip with his host family. “I’d only just arrived and was handed a shotgun – not really my thing but definitely something different,” he said.
At school, Andrew said he found the curriculum very advanced and mathematics “insanely difficult”. He enjoyed taking journalism as a subject and writing for the school newspaper, in which students had free reign. “The school has an honour code, on which all students take an oath, so there is no censorship. There are also no locks and no bans. However, punishment for breaching the oath is harsh.”
Andrew said he chose the US because he wanted a big city experience and because he felt the further away his experience was, the more different it would be.
Other immersion schools include King’s College, Merchiston Castle School, Tonbridge School, Brighton College and Dean Close School in the United Kingdom; Kearsney College, Bishop’s Diocesan College and Michaelhouse in South Africa; Belmont Hill School in the USA; King’s College in New Zealand; and St Andrew’s College in Canada.
Expressions of interest are currently being sought. For more information, go to http://www.ccgs.wa.edu.au/we-offer/senior-school/beyond-queenslea-drive