Leadership and Team Building, signing off for 2017!

As the year draws to an end, the team here at Character Builders are reflecting on 2017 and preparing for 2018.

It’s been a HUGE year for both Character Builders and our new sister company Character Care, and we are all very much looking forward to some time off with our families and friends over the Christmas and New Year period.

However, we are also acutely aware of what an honour and a privilege it is to get to do, “what we do” each and every day.

Working with students, teachers and corporate clients alike, developing their teams, their cohorts or their individuals with confidence, respect and self-esteem.

We hope that every one of our clients takes something valuable away from their session/s with Character Builders  – we know that we learn something from every group that we work with!

We have been delighted with the variety of students from all different ages and parts of the country that we have been lucky enough to engage with in 2017.  What we’ve also enjoyed is watching teachers see their students in a different light.  We’ve loved bringing that sense of growth and character development to schools, camps, excursions and staff professional development.

One of the luxuries we have at Character Builders is that we work across the board with schools, tertiary and corporate organisations.  In 2017 we really focused on the inner child, and fostered a collaborative approach towards empowering our clients to invest in themselves and those around them.  No matter what age, background or preference, each of our clients deserves the opportunity to be totally who they are and celebrated for their journey to date.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our valued clients a wonderful Christmas season with their family and friends.  The team at Character Builders feel privileged and gracious to have spent time with you all in 2017.  We look forward to welcoming new schools, tertiary and corporate organisations in 2018 and will be back in January ready to build character!

School Camps QLD

With the end of year in sight, we know that this is an extremely busy time for Teachers and Students alike.  We also know that for most of our clients, this is the time to be researching and planning your 2018 school camp.

At Character Builders we aim to take as much of the workload off Teachers and Principals as possible and can support both the planning and delivery of your upcoming camp.

We work with some exceptional camp venues across Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast.  Our expertly crafted programs are individually tailored for each school, linked to the National Curriculum and structured to meet your school’s objectives.  We have run programs for a huge array of school groups, including sports teams, swimming clubs and academic and research groups.  We never fail to create a camp program that will both excite and challenge your students.

We provide a team of expert Facilitators who are trained in the delivery of our programs, and many of whom are qualified Teachers.  Our team will be on site well before your camp begins to set everything up and ensure a smooth-running event from beginning to end.

Some of our camp experiences include;

  • Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
  • Team Challenges and Minute-to-Win-it style activities
  • Leadership development
  • Team building experiences
  • Meaningful and engaging night time experiences
  • So much more!

For your Administrators, know that we provide a detailed Risk Assessment for every camp, have Public Liability Insurance, and that all our staff hold current Blue Cards.

We would love the opportunity to work with you on a program for your 2018 camp, connect you with some of our amazing contacts within the industry and create an exceptional camp for your students and teachers alike.

“Our students certainly benefited from the genuine care, skill and enthusiasm of the Character Builders staff. They were not only active and involved during the camp, but went above and beyond prior to and after the camp to ensure that our students received the best experience possible.” – Kirstin Harding, St. Thomas Moore College.

To find out more about the camp programs we offer across Queensland, contact us today!

Phone: 1300205101 or email: info@characterbuilders.com.au

Leadership and Team Building Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba

Across south East Queensland, Character Builders offers leadership and team building experiences in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba.

We are passionate about building great leadership, culture and character, and offer a range of programs that are fun, interactive and engaging.

We pride ourselves on tailoring each of our programs to meet the objectives of each school, organisation and business we partner with; always focusing on meeting your desired outcomes and exceeding your expectations!

We specialise in school camps, school and corporate leadership programs, corporate team building events, sourcing and providing motivational speakers for events, as well as incursions and excursions for schools.

Character Builders has been operating for over 10 years and partners with hundreds of schools across Australia.  Our team hold qualifications in teaching, physical education, counselling, psychology and creative arts.  We strive to build connections with each and every student and staff member we work with because we know that success comes through building rapport. This is where the magic happens.

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the amazing Teachers and Principals who engage us to deliver program’s on their behalf. As external providers we are able to help convey their key messages through our empowering and innovative learning experiences.

We know that your students or employees could benefit from building their confidence, respect and self-esteem so send us an email to learn more about the exciting, challenging and interactive experiences that we can deliver for you.

Email: info@characterbuilders.com.au

Phone: 1300 205 101

Web: www.characterbuilders.com.au

Out of The Box Leadership Experiences

So many schools and organisations want to empower their leaders to serve their respective communities and operations.  In the process of doing so it is often the case that there is a very clear set of desired outcomes that the school or organisation is looking for

Developing trends in the 21st century demand that leaders possess skills in creativity, vulnerability and persistence.  These can often be overlooked or diminished when future leaders are not given the opportunity to broaden their horizons and working place environments.  For these reasons we are strong advocates for experiential learning outside the class and boardroom.

One such experience is Character Builders CBD Photo Treasure Hunt.  Participating leaders are encouraged to step outside of the norm and unlock their social and emotional skill set as they unravel clues, problem solve, laterally interpret and communicate with each other.  This entire series of skills is further challenged with time constraints, budget limitations, and a plethora of external influences.  It is prominent during these times that one’s character and leadership capacity is poised for growth.

Just like the CBD Photo Treasure Hunt we facilitate a host of exciting out of the box leadership experiences.  For more information on ways your school or organisation can foster leadership, please contact one of the Characters in our team!

All your Summer Camp FAQs, answered!

You may not be aware yet, but during these upcoming Christmas Holidays Character Builders will be partnering our friends at Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre to offer some fantastic Summer Camps! So we thought it would be a good idea to blog about some of the more common questions parents ask when considering sending their child/ren to a week-long summer camp.

For your peace of mind, we have been running experiences with youth for over 10 years and we always strive to create a safe, inclusive and respectful environment.  We pride ourselves providing young people with fun but meaningful, and character building opportunities wherever possible.  Rest assured your children will have a wonderful time with us at the Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre.

FAQs

What measures are there to ensure the safety of my child?
Character Builders conduct a full risk assessment on all of our camp experiences.  Whether it be in the water, or on the land, students are supervised at all times and are encouraged to do the following:

  • Wear appropriate clothing for the activity (e.g.: sun safety)
  • Remain hydrated and nourished throughout the day
  • Adhere to strict guidelines around sleeping and down time
  • Feel comfortable to approach any staff member with any questions or problems they may have, at any time
  • Look out for their camp buddies at all times

What measures do you have in place for making sure children are accounted for at all time
A roll call will be conducted six times each day; including breakfast, morning tea, lunch time, afternoon tea, dinner and lights out.  Further, students are placed in buddy groups whereby they will not only be responsible for looking out for their room-mate, but also several other children on the camp.  This ensures that there are more people, looking out for more people!  All Character Builders and Maroochy Waterfront staff are approachable, and are vigilant in redirecting any child who may appear to be lost or not in the specified area at the specified time.

What sort of food can I expect my child to be eating?
Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre provide a well balanced variety of foods, ensuring the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables accompanied by scrumptious meals, and definitely some of the goodies that children like to eat!  The catering also allows for special diets upon request.

How are students coordinated for activities, sleeping and general camp experiences?
Activities: In some cases, students will be placed in age appropriate groups, while in others there will be a mix of all ages to encourage children to work together in building character and peer support.  Girls and boys will be mixed with each other throughout all activities and every group will have a dedicated Character Builders Facilitator at all times.
Sleeping: Boys of all ages will be placed in one side of the resort, and girls on the other.  Character Builders male staff will sleep on the boys side and female staff on the girls.  Students will be allocated rooms in small groups of 2 – 3 children per room, and will each have their own bathroom and lockable door.  For their sleeping comfort, all rooms are air conditioned.  In the event that children cannot sleep or need help during the night a Character Builders’ staff member will be no further than 25 m from their door step
General camp experiences: All general camp experiences are designed to help children develop social skills while building their character.  With this in mind, students will be encouraged to mix heavily with a variety of different children across all experiences.  To ensure students feel comfortable we always try to pair and group children of the same age.

How will I communicate with my child while they’re on camp?
We will have access for parents from 6am – 11pm via a mobile phone.  However, if at any time your child needs to contact you, our staff will ensure they can reach you on the designated numbers you provide.

Are there procedures in place if my child is unwell or injured during camp?
We carry a full first aid kit for minor scratches, bumps and grazes.  There is a medical centre within a 5-minute drive from the resort, and the Nambour Hospital is only a 15 minute drive if further attention is needed.  You will be notified immediately should a visit to the medical centre of the Hospital be required.  All bumps and bruises will be treated by a qualified member of our team.  All parents will be asked to provide Medicare details, as well as any medication which will be stored securely and privately by our staff.

How will my child get to and from camp?
Parents have the option of dropping and picking up their children at MWCCC at designated times, and/or there will be a bus leaving a central Brisbane location prior to, and after the camp.  Full details sent after booking confirmation.

What does my child need to bring or pack for camp? A full detailed packing list will be sent to each child prior to camp, however it is strongly advised that students do not bring anything of value; we are running a technology free camp so mobile phones will not be needed (unless otherwise requested by parents).

Does the program cater for different learning styles and abilities?
Our menu of activities and experiences includes physical sport, creative arts, social skill building, and intellectually challenges, games and quizzes to ensure all children have a breadth of experiences aimed at building their character.

Are there any extra costs; does my child need to bring money to camp?
There are no extra costs and we strongly advise that no student bring money to the camp.  Everything you child needs, is included in the camp!

We hope that answers any questions you may have had about the upcoming Summer Camp at Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre.  We are all really looking forward to welcoming your child to a camp over the Christmas Holidays.  For even more details on the camps, visit the Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre Facebook Event by clicking here!

“Character Builders is a great organisation which provides great ‘days out’ and camps for our students.  The organisation of these days is excellent and the adaptability to ensure programs will work… is tremendous!”
Kylie Fletcher, Head of Middle School – All Hallows

 

 

The Festival of Teachers

Over the 1st weekend in September we welcomed a lovely group of teachers from a variety of schools across south east Queensland to the beautiful Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre for the Festival of Teachers.

The dance floor was packed, we shared beverages and speed dating on the first night and the main themes of the conference was to release the inner child and connecting on camp and outdoor educational experiences.

One of the things that I enjoyed witnessing most was watching teachers let down their hair and step into the shoes of their students in a re-enactment of school camp.  But, instead of cordial, we had alcohol and instead of lasagne we had rack of lamb and barramundi! The wonderful team at Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre put on a great spread for the teachers.

Key messages from the conference were to not only thank teachers for their wonderful contribution in schools, but also to highlight the further possibilities of meaningful connections with their students outside of school.  I am passionate about putting things into perspective and over the conference, one of my goals was to deliver a few perspectives to teachers, which I would like to share with you now.

Perspective #1 –

On overnight camps and experiences I often hear teachers and camp coordinators telling students how grateful they should be that their teachers are spending time away from their families, and giving up their time to be on camp.  While I acknowledge this is a wonderful offering, I also challenge the same teachers or camp coordinators to recognise that the students too are giving up their valuable time away from their families.  Many of them who have not yet got the resilience, social skills and experience of spending that time away from the comfort of their home.

Perspective #2 –

During the festival, teachers took part in Dragon Boating and a variety of other team building sessions.  It was a real privilege to watch teachers approach me in the same manner as students to double check the items they would need to bring for activities even though these were explained just prior. It’s a great reminder to us all that we are only human. We can’t always be aware of everything that is happening around us. I am reminded that patience is not only a virtue but an intentional practice that we all should invest into our character. Teachers are only human and I really encourage the members of the community to not only recognise the great service they offer but also that they are just like the rest of us too.

Perspective #3 –

Among the great group of teachers there were those who found it very challenging to get their feet wet with Dragon Boating, yet excelled in our Domino Construction activity.  The creativity of some teachers was matched with the physicality of others in different activities.  All in all, it was great to see the variety of characters combining to build one beautiful culture.  I believe most teachers by the end of the conference could identify how they as individuals could more intentionally respond to different experiences when they are taken outside their norm, and challenged with new learnings.

We summarised the conference with a viewing of the wonderfully imaginative animation, “Room on the Broom.”  It was a wonderful way to summarise the conference, allowing each teacher to connect with one of the characters in the story and to see how they would be challenged when placed outside of friendship groups and comfort zones on outdoor educational experiences.

A message to the readers of this blog who were unable to attend the festival –  If you get the chance, access the ABC iView app on your smart TV or interactive phones and watch “Room on the Broom” (if possible watch it with your students to help foster a sense of character development and the inner child – Hurry!! ends mid-September). The story has so many wonderful messages that will help build the right team culture for your classrooms and year levels.

I would personally like to thank the wonderful contribution of all teachers who attended the Festival of Teachers over the weekend, together with the wonderful staff at the beautiful Maroochy Waterfront Camp and Conference Centre.

Although never easy it was a privilege to be away from my family, to spend a couple of wonderful days with wonderful teachers … and the return home was just as good!

 

Damon

5 minutes with Gavin – Character Builders’ Lead Facilitator

I recently had the pleasure of sitting with our Lead Facilitator Gavin Andrews and getting to know a little more about his passions both at work, and at home.

Here is what we chatted about:

1.       Tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a passionate facilitator and educator. I taught for 12 years across several QLD schools holding both classroom teaching and Head of Sport titles. I grew up in a little town called Alstonville in northern NSW, and passionately support the BLUES!.  My other passions are family, my Christian faith, sport, workshop facilitation and outdoor education.

I love creating opportunities for students to step out of their comfort zones and learn new things about themselves. I also like to lead by example in the breaking down of stereo types such as ‘real men don’t talk about their feelings’.

2.       How did you first get involved in Character Builders?

I was teaching Year 5 in a local Brisbane school and had the opportunity to work alongside Character Builders in the leadership programs. I really enjoyed and connected to the values and purpose of the programs and felt my own personal values aligned. I took some long service leave and began working as a contractor and am now full-time as the Lead Facilitator.

3.       What do you find most challenging about your job?

The most challenging aspect of my job is probably what makes my job the most fun! I never know what each day is going to bring or even what each session may bring. It sometimes can be challenging to be quickly thinking on your feet and catching a curve ball a participant or organiser throws at you. But I also thrive off this challenge.

4.       Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with Character Builders?

I have met a wide range of people working with Character Builders. People from all backgrounds financially, culturally and socially. The individuals that stick out to me from the programs I have facilitated are the ones who may not be the loudest; however, have a real presence and impact on a group. They do this through their attitude and sticking to a task no matter the challenge.

5.       How would someone describe your facilitation style?

My facilitation style has grown and changed in the time I have been in this role. I have moved from the rule following teacher style, to a more relaxed, fun and occasionally funny presenter. I like to enthuse and encourage with positive words and actions with individuals and teams.

6.       What do you do when you aren’t working?

I love to spend time with my wife and 2 boys. This could mean time at the local parks, taking my eldest to rugby union or cricket training and games, attending Church as a family or just chilling out at home. I am also trying to still play some social indoor cricket as often as I can. Also since beginning with Character Builders I have also found enjoyment in running for fitness, something I never thought I would find fun!

7.       What’s the best thing a Facilitator can do for students?

Connect – I believe making a personal connection with students is crucial in everything; but, also connecting presentations to personal values and beliefs. Without personal connection students don’t believe what you are presenting is authentic, it lacks meaning and purpose. Every session I facilitate I am to gather names and speak to as many students on an individual level showing a genuine interest in who they are.

8.       Who are some people you look up to, and why?

My parents – Col and Gwen Andrews. My parents both have education backgrounds. Over the years I have listened to both mum and dad speak about individual students and the genuine love and care they have for them. They knew different aspects of the students’ lives and the challenges they were facing and celebrated the joys. Since retirement both mum and dad have continued connections with students they had previously taught and have engaged in their ongoing lives. Also since retirement their involvements in Church and community programs has increased. These roles involve mentoring and assisting other in the community to reach greater potential.

Gavin is such a valuable part of the team at Character Builders, these insights reiterate why.  If you’re a client, you’ve no doubt gotten something out of all the hard work Gavin puts into his every day.  If you’re yet to met Gavin, I have no doubt you’ll think as much of him as we do!

2017 Facilitator Training

I had the honour and privilege of being invited to attend Character Builders’ annual Facilitator Training earlier this year.  Not only was the experience personally moving, it was eye opening to better understand the research, pedagogy and passion that Damon and Clare (Owners and Directors) put into the programs, experiences and training at Character Builders.

The view from Altitude 261, the beautiful venue of our 2017 Facilitator Training

I have worked as the Program Coordinator at Character Builders since March of this year.  With a background in school-based program management, children’s education, and the arts, I took on this role thinking I had little to learn, but a lot to share.  At the surface Character Builders appeared to be a straight forward, streamlined business that had built themselves a great reputation by being exceptional at what they did.  Their programs; tried and tested, simple and reliable.  What I couldn’t see from the surface was the years of expertise, knowledge and training that has gone into the creation of every single Character Builders’ experience.

 

The Girls’ team won the balloon construction experience!

Character Builders’ execute their activities with detailed precision and purpose; always driving towards a greater objective. We tailor every offering to ensure learning, connection and growth.   It was encouraging and eye opening to see the coaching Character Builders Facilitators receive in classroom management and more importantly around character development and support.  A dedication and commitment to be present, aware and to ensure every student can take something valuable from their time with the team.

Ready, Steady, Cook!

I now feel that it is my responsibility to better communicate these complexities with clients through the processes and systems behind the scenes.  Clare and Damon have become so good at what they do; they make this business seem effortless.  While they absolutely have the people and infrastructure in place to ensure streamlined operations, nothing could be less true than what they do being effortless.  The reality is, that Character Builders is a labour of love and a business built on passion.  The team here work tirelessly to ensure high quality programs and meaningful outcomes from every piece of work we do.  Nothing is by accident.  Every “game”, each “activity”, is driving towards a purposeful outcome.  Everything is genuinely engineered around creating unity, respect, self-esteem and confidence. I feel privileged to have joined such a passionate and talented team.

(Most of) The team!

I’m looking forward to years of learning working beside them.

 

Erin

Kokoda Trail – ‘Following in the Footsteps of Heroes’

Kokoda Trail Soldiers

One of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, which has forever sealed the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, began over 70 years ago.

It was on July 21, 1942, that Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of then New Guinea and unexpectedly began to march over the Owen Stanley Ranges with the intent of capturing Port Moresby.

Had they succeeded, the mainland of Australia would have come under dire threat.

More Australians died in the seven months of fighting in Papua, and the Japanese came closer to Australia than in any other campaign.

Many of those young Australians, whose average age was between 18 and 19, now lie buried at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.

Conditions were almost indescribable.

Stretcher bearers in the Owen Stanleys, William Dargie, 1947. [Oil on canvas 143.2 x 234.4cm AWM ART26653] The evacuation of the wounded was a serious problem. The native bearers carried the stretchers, sometimes under fire, back to the ADS [Advanced Dressing Station]. The Papuans constructed the stretchers: blankets slung between two poles with spreaders at each end. Eight natives were allotted to each stretcher and they stayed with the same patient until they reached their destination. [Papua Campaigns, Report dealing with Medical organisation, 1942. AWM54 481/2/48]

Much of the track was through dense rain forest, which enclosed the narrow passage between walls of thick bush.

It rained most of the time, and at higher levels, the terrain became moss and stunted trees, were often covered in mist.

Worn down and weary from hunger, malaria and dysentery, the men endured some of the most difficult terrains in the world.

But the men kept fighting, making the enemy pay dearly for every bit of ground – buying time for those being prepared to come up from Port Moresby to relieve them.

The force, being desperately tired but determined, kept themselves between the Japanese Major General Horri’s South Sea Force and Port Moresby – defending, retreating and then counter – attacking in a masterly display of strategic defence.

We remember The Battle of Kokoda as one of the most heroic defensive actions in Australian military history.

Why conquer the Character Builders’ Kokoda Challenge?

Character Builders – Kokoda Sling-Shot activity

‘Hearing both sides of the story’

Character Builders’ Kokoda Challenge draws on the past accounts from all sidesof the campaign including the Japanese, Australians’ and Papuan soldiers.

These stories help students to understand the importance of putting things into perspective.

FEATURES:

  • Amazing outdoor experience for all ages (including Staff)
  • Challenges students to respect diversity and difference in others
  • Culturally and historically important for every student
  • Inspires young minds to look for perspective
  • Demands commitment and a high level of teamwork from students
  • Empowers students to strive for leadership
  • Emphasises the message of “Lest We Forget”

YOUR STUDENTS AND STAFF WILL

  • carry each other (mountain assault and stretchers)
  • trust each other (team games and base camp duties)
  • share with each other (food on, BBQ cooking and reflection)
  • appreciate the environment

OUTCOMES:

Students and staff walk away from this day having been given the opportunity to stop, reflect on the past, act in the present and plan a more open-minded approach to take back to school and implement into their lives.

* Contact Character Builders to book your Kokoda Challenge

Phone: 1300 205 101  Email: info@characterbuilders.com.au
Web: www.characterbuilders.com.au

Character Builders Blazing Trails into 2017

    

Despite temperatures reaching a scorching 37 degrees, we’ve had a fantastic turn-out for the year. Character Builders staff have enjoyed providing events jam-packed with fun, laughter and positivity.

Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of working with staff and students from the following schools:

  • Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Primary School – Brisbane
  • The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James – Townsville
  • TAFE – Brisbane
  • St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School
  • Canterbury College
  • Canon Hill Anglican College (CHAC)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes School – Sunnybank
  • Moreton Bay College
  • A.B. Paterson College
  • St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School
  • St Kevin’s Primary School
  • Varsity College
  • Fig Tree Pocket State School
  • Redlands College
  • Australian Christian College – Moreton
  • St Stephen’s College

As always, it’s been a pleasure to give students a chance to bond, share stories and enjoy time away from the rigours of the classroom.

We have had an awesome start to 2017 and are looking forward to spending more time with these wonderful groups in the future.