Let’s face it, school camp can be a pretty daunting experience for a wide eyed and nervous year 9 student. There are so many firsts on camp – their first time camping, staying out in nature, cooking meals, being away from family (and technology!), trying new things and challenging themselves. Phew!

‘Outside your comfort zone’ becomes a bit of a permanent state in the beginning, but with these firsts always comes some impressive growth and development. Our POET team are lucky enough to see some students return to camp year on year until they graduate from School, giving a pretty neat window into the development of these young people through their high school years. 

One of those students who has returned each year and has gained confidence from challenging herself and trying new things, is Ngaruawahia High School head Girl, Aomi Irani. 

At her first POET camp in year 9, Aomi admits to being straight-up “terrified”. She didn’t know how to swim at that point, and took a pretty strong disliking to physical activity, so it’s safe to say just the thought of school camp was pretty confronting. Flash forward 5 years and Aomi has challenged her fears (and admits to actually enjoying it!), she’s become a POET Leader, is now Head Girl, and is making some big plans for her future. 

In fact, having been with us to places like Te Aroha, Lake Karapiro, Taupiri, the Hakarimatas, and Pirongia, we reckon she’s a bit of an expert on all things school camp these days.  

Before she heads off to start her new journey we asked her a few questions about her experiences on school camp and her time with POET.

What we’re your biggest lessons you learned on school camp?
“So many lessons! Here’s a couple of my biggest ones:

  • Give it a go – It really helped boost my self-esteem and the result of knowing that you were afraid of something, but you overcame, it feels great.
  • Be yourself – Everyone there is just as anxious as you. I have noticed that some people act rebellious and some act very reserved, so just be yourself and you will attract a lot of friends 🙂
  • What you value – Being a leader at camp really gave me skills like relationship building and responsibility but it also taught me what I value because of the time management I had to do. It is a challenge to see what you would use your time doing throughout the few days, what skills you gain, and finding your strengths and weaknesses.”

 Tell us about one thought-provoking moment on camp.
“What I remember vividly was in my first camp. I was really scared of water because I didn’t know how to swim. But because I wanted to give things a go, I jumped in the water for the activity with the help of a leader and I accomplished what had to be done.” 

What was your personal favorite activity on school camp? 
“I really loved paddling on the Waikato Te Awa from Taupiri Maunga to Turangawaewae Marae. It was painful since it was my first time paddling so far, but the experience was unimaginable because of the views, animals and perspectives that I saw. But for me personally, I liked leading the camp.” 

What do you feel you learned about yourself on school camp? 
“I learned that I can connect with so many different personalities just by being me.” 

Do you feel that your confidence in yourself grew on school camp? If so, what activity sparked this growth?
“Every year, my confidence increased in different ways. For example, I could use my strength for the quiz or drawing games and people would boost my self-esteem by complimenting me. But also the fact that I hated physical activity and that I would participate in them, such as capture the flag, made me feel confident because I gave it a go.”

What did you learn about nature/your environment at school camp? 
“When we went up the Hakarimata hike, I learned about what is our backyard. I didn’t know that there were so many amazing things about plants and trees and what they do for us. I also learned to appreciate nature more after I went paddling on Te Awa.”

What are your plans for the future?
“I have received a scholarship to Waikato University and I am going to get my degree in Bachelor of Arts with social science. I hope to invest in a career where I am able to help people in our community and make societies more positive.” 

From the POET team – look at you go Aomi! We’re super inspired by your progress, and we wish you all the best in this new and exciting chapter of life. You’ve got the attitude and tools to take on anything now, and we can’t wait to see what you tackle next! 

Pin It on Pinterest