{Learn from} {the Outdoors}; Greg Smith's Experiential Camp Aims to Help Groups

Article excerpt

Byline: {} {Nadine Fisher nadine.fisher@tweednews.com.au }

MAKING a difference in the lives of young people was the reason behind Greg Smith's move to the Tweed area.

He had worked for Edmund Rice Camps for many years all over Australia and wanted to branch out on his own.

And so he began Interaction Experiential Learning, an outdoor education camp, based at Kunghur near Uki.

"It is experiential, meaning the learning happens by doing. It's sustainable, for it has the powerful potential to help groups and individuals improve physical, emotional and intellectual skills, and to grow and mature to become valuable contributing Australians in a community where responsibility is the foundation value to the earth surviving.

"I have a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of young Australians," Mr Smith said. "Young people have a culture where they are very technology literate and computer focused and sedentry.

"But they're not engaged with each other or the community."

So for the past 15 years Mr Smith has been working to change that, through his outdoor adventure education camps, primarily targeting school groups in Years six to 12.

"I want to see young people engaged with each other and the outdoors provides the medium to do this. To a large extent young people, and all of us, are disengaged from the planet that supports us," he said.

Mr Smith said he had also implemented annual community building programs at the camp in an effort to keep kids connected within their community area to facilitate positive social change.

"We currently run these community programs for Kyogle and Nimbin, but I'd love to see other communities become involved. We have found that these camps help to keep kids in touch with their local community and can help to even out the highs and lows in behaviour - like an antidote for anti-social behaviour.

"Another of my programs is targeting fathers and sons - to promote a healthy rite of passage," Mr Smith said.

"The programs are designed to build bonds of trust and friendship between young people and their parents in a safe, supportive and exciting environment. …