Training to be good men

Champagnat College Pagewood Year 11 Quest Camp for VET students.

Connecting with the country and reflecting on the rite of passage into manhood.

Time away from the city allowed Year 11 Vocational Education and Training (VET) students at Champagnat College Pagewood to connect with the land where our food is produced and reflect on the type of men they want to become.

Held at the Marist Farm at Mittagong, the Quest Camp involved 40 students studying VET courses in hospitality, automotive, construction, business services and fitness studies. The focus of the three-day, country-based program was on developing their vocational trade skills and on the rite of passage into manhood.

The students were supervised by enthusiastic staff who worked with them to complete small projects such as deconstructing cattle grids and removing fence posts, landscaping and planting vegetables, drenching sheep, feeding cattle, cooking meals with fresh farm produce and attending a live cattle sale yard auction.

The College’s Hospitality students experienced the process of ‘paddock to plate’ when they visited John Mauger’s farm and butcher shop at Burrawang. Mr Mauger explained to the boys that he prides himself on producing the very highest quality of meat with livestock raised on natural pasture without the use of antibiotics or chemicals and managing the process from farm to store.

Champagnat College Pagewood Quest Camp

Learning about the ‘paddock to plate’ process on John Mauger’s farm.

The students also had an inspirational tour of Biota, a ‘two hat’ restaurant in Bowral where the chef described the process of using fresh ingredients grown in the land around the restaurant – the herb and vegetable gardens, a hot house for growing exotic flowers used in desserts and a chicken hen for fresh eggs.

Dominic Ritchie, Leader of Trade Training at Champagnat College, said the program allowed the students to be involved in ‘real life’ tasks, which authenticated what they were doing in the classroom.

He said the students also had time for self-reflection, exam study enrichment, workplace journal writing and exploring issues around the rite of passage into manhood.

As a symbolic gesture of their commitment to be good men, each student wrote a motto for their future selves on a mini cricket bat, which was placed at the foot of a statue of Jesus at the camp’s concluding outdoor liturgy.

“This included looking at issues of social justice and social responsibility as responsible and resilient young men; the ability to form healthy relationships and be positive about the future and making the best possible contribution to the world.”

As a symbolic gesture of their commitment to be good men, each student wrote a motto for their future selves on a mini cricket bat, which was placed at the foot of a statue of Jesus at the camp’s concluding outdoor liturgy.

It was a time to … learn about the importance of being a good man with strong values and putting faith into action.

– Year 11 student Jonathan Avris

Participant Jonathan Avris said the Quest camp was fantastic.

“We not only developed our vocational skills we also got to work around the farm, feed the animals, marking, docking and castrating sheep,” Jonathan said.

“We visited farms and commercial outlets to see other examples of the paddock to plate concept and learnt about the importance of providing fresh organic produce to the market place. It was a time to get know my friends and teachers better and learn about the importance of being a good man with strong values and putting faith into action by getting involved with social justice projects,” Jonathan said.

“The camp was memorable for the boys and a wonderful opportunity to get involved in many projects, take time out to reflect and enhance their vocational skills,” Mr Ritchie said.

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