Kawakawa Service Camp

By Rose Langridge  – Kawakawa Teacher

As Maria Montessori said “Education should therefore include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds complete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence.”

Wā Ora Montessori embraces this idea in many ways and I love the chance to be involved in these experiences.

Last week we embarked on the service camp. Kawakawa headed to Wainui Camp and worked on clearing the land and planting native trees in this area. Ākonga (students) participated in tangible work that they could see was making a true difference to the environment in which they were working.

As well as working on the land, ākonga become chefs whilst they are away. All the food is made from scratch so that these meals are very much a labour of love as the group cannot use processed foods; bread is made and vegetables are peeled, chopped and diced and turned into delights. The camp is also meat free and a push for seasonal foods is a priority.

I had the joy of working beside the kitchen crews. Each meal needed a huge amount of input and collaboration as you can imagine when cooking for just shy of sixty people at each meal.  Systems were worked out however and I learnt a few new tricks myself, the favourite being to put a spoon in your mouth whilst you cut onions to stop you crying. The class was amazing at adapting and, when we did not have the food processor, took to making falafel mix without complaint by hand. I was stunned, however they refused to give up and made a brilliant falafel crumble and Greek salad by the time the others were back from work.

The talents that are needed for working in a deadline situation in a kitchen cooking for a large amount of people are complex and it is great to see the groups take this task on with such aplomb. They could really teach those MasterChef competitors a thing or two about unity and grace under pressure. Being able to develop these skills in an environment which the group does not know well is a great thing and pushes the whole group.

This camp is certainly not the norm for most schools in New Zealand. Bonding with ākonga in this way and being the kitchen Queen, sporting a crown made by them, was great fun and I did enjoy seeing ākonga develop and shine when it came to practical experience.