Year 7 Connect Retreat
Let The Adventure Begin 

Starting high school represents a monumental milestone in a child’s life; it marks the start of a period of great growth and increased independence. For Year 7 students at Brisbane Boys’ College, it presents an opportunity to retreat to the great outdoors.

For three years now, the College has run a unique Connect Retreat Orientation program for those starting high school, designed to help boys build resilience, alleviate any anxieties associated with the transition and importantly to foster genuine connection.

On the first day of Term 1, more than 195 boys commenced their journey and headed to Camp Somerset for the Retreat.  

According to BBC’s Head of Middle School Ian Macpherson, the program - run over three days in the first week of school – sees boys participate in a range of activities designed to help them learn about themselves and others.

“The whole experience is built around connection. Whether boys are completely new to the College or are transitioning from our Junior School in Year 6, we want them to know that they are not only joining a community, but are essential to the vibrancy of our community,” said Ian. 

“We’ve received an extremely positive response from parents, teachers and boys alike since first introducing the initiative in 2015,” he said.

“We want boys to feel accepted and valued for who they are from the very first day, which is why the experience runs in the first week of school. It’s a busy time to do it from a logistical perspective, not to mention the heightened sense of nervousness experienced by boys and parents during this period. We believe however this provides the most supportive start to the year.

“Instead of boys turning up in a new uniform, not knowing their peers and having to navigate a foreign environment, we want them to have an experience where they are challenged but also supported.

“And when it comes to breaking down barriers and strengthening relationships there is no better place than the natural environment itself. In a structured, timetabled world boys don’t always have the opportunity to have those incidental conversations that often take place on camp. The type of conversations that help to establish friendship and trust. We’re incredibly lucky to have such passionate staff who not only make the program possible but who truly endorse it.

“The initiative acts as an important rite of passage, with the activities symbolic to their growing independence. Boys take part in a high ropes course, rafting and also take lessons in learning to polish their shoes, iron their shirts and to wear their uniform with pride.

Parents also play a significant role in the experience which according to the school is essential.

“Parent partnerships are crucial in the middle phase of learning. At BBC we understand the importance of parents and teachers working in partnership to achieve successful outcomes for all of our boys. It’s important that boys are able to move from dependence to independence and are supported during this phase. Middle schooling is very much focused around relationships, connections and partnerships,” said Ian.

“Parents are invited to write a letter to their son and place it in his locker ready for his return from camp,” he said.  

“Watching boys read through their notes and to share this experience with their parents will be an amazing part of the experience. The letters will also be archived for boys to revisit when they reach Year 12.

“This experience provides boys with an invaluable opportunity to immerse themselves in the BBC culture. We see relationships as the foundation for learning and growth and the program enables boys to establish strong connections with their peers, principal teachers and housemasters, which means that when they return they’re ready to flourish within our Middle School environment."