Encouraging girls to face their fears, find their courage, and embrace adventure …for life.

For nearly three decades (and  7 000 girls later), the SMS girls in the senior grades have participated in activities such as guided hikes, high ropes, ocean canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, scuba diving, and sailing during our annual Outweek learning experience in September.  In recent years, the concept of Outweek has been extended to include students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 ensuring that this exposure to outdoor education is enjoyed across the entire school.  The younger grades have the opportunity to participate in orienteering, geocaching, trips to various parks in Victoria or to Camp Thunderbird, stargazing, and the ultimate overnight camping trip —right here on our beautiful SMS campus. More recently, our girls in Grades 4 and 5 had the opportunity to spend a day on the tall ships to gain some exposure and potential interest in participating in the S.A.L.T.S. sailing experience in the senior grades.

The focus of Outweek then is to provide a wide range of activities that help our girls learn about natural science, geography, environmental studies, outdoor living skills, group development, and adventure learning.  All of these activities truly embrace the goals in the Strategic Plan, providing our girls with a unique and diverse educational experience that will help them develop self-confidence and, make connections with nature and service, support our STEM initiatives including this year’s focus around health and wellness, and finally, allow our students to practise courage.

As such, in preparation for Outweek, it might be helpful to talk with your child about what it means to be courageous.

This week of activities – all planned to push the learning from the classroom to the outdoors – is designed to encourage the girls to try something new, to push beyond their comfort level, and to embrace the concept of “challenge by choice.” Our hope is that the girls will gain strength, confidence, and courage by being open to new experiences and embracing the fear of trying something new.  There is always that rush of energy – heart pounding, goose bump chills, or pit in your stomach/gut feeling – that you experience when you are afraid, really happy, or truly touched by something you have seen or done.  Challenging your fears can create an upward spiral to personal greatness that lifts you as well as those around you.  The inspiration of your efforts will resonate and empower others to overcome their own personal demons and reinforce that “can do” attitude that we so want all of our girls to experience.

The journey to face our fears and do something we thought we couldn’t do allows us to ponder our next challenge or possibility with a sense of active anticipation rather than dread and uncertainty.  Not acting because of your fears, may limit your belief in your own abilities and result in the narrowing of opportunities in the future. Our fear of failing is not generally the real barrier to trying something new; instead we are often hampered by the driving emotions of rejection, embarrassment, guilt, and humiliation that we believe we will experience when we don’t have control of the outcomes. Hence, we need to encourage our girls to “lean in” to their fears, take risks, look for possibilities, learn from mistakes, and grow as individuals.  Only then can we say that we are truly preparing our students for a future that is yet to be defined or even imagined.

I look forward to hearing the girls’ stories when they return from Outweek ready to describe the challenge as well as the joy and essence of the journey as they found their courage and accomplished much more than they thought they ever could. At St. Margaret’s, we are here to help the girls when they are struggling to be brave, and to celebrate when their courage carries the day.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experiences to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experiences.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure.  You have no security unless you live bravely, excitedly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt


  • Daring Greatly.  Brene Brown. 2012
  • Anxious Kids. Anxious Parents. Lynn Lyons. 2013