Formative experiences – from single gender school to camp

A few days ago an old classmate sent me a link to a podcast from my high school. I’m not one to keep up much with my old alma mater, living 3000 miles away makes reunions and the like fairly impossible. I was intrigued enough to engage as it was hosted by my former headmistress.  I grew up in England and attended a very traditional, all girls, grammar school. Admittance was via a rigorous examination and interview process and I was the only student from my primary school to head off there. I strode off into a whole new world of education and opportunities which definitely set me off along the path that I travel today. 

At the time I had little concept of the benefits of a single gender experience but the podcast reminded me just how fortunate I was to spend my formative years from 11-18, in an all girls and predominantly female managed institution. Miss Winfield now in her 80’s eloquently speaks on the podcast about the opportunities that were available to girls without constraint and how support and encouragement was given for developing a well rounded student ready to move forward in her life. Along with strong academics there was an extensive athletic and music program supported by arts and adventures on school trips.

Using words such as ‘self advocacy’, ‘independence’ and ‘confidence,’ it is impossible not to draw similarities from my old school to Runoia. To be strongly encouraged to make ‘independent choices’ ‘maximize your opportunities’ and get the ‘best out of your day’ are recurring themes. While there is no doubt that coed experiences have equitable value there is something very different about learning and growing in a single gender setting. There are no limitations visible or hidden and the presented opportunities are available to all. It is rare to see conflicts around funding, scheduling or opportunity.

I loved that my school had rigorous expectations, partnered with parents and was truly staffed by teachers who were passionate about their jobs and imparting their wisdom to the next generation. Again such strong similarities to camp, upholding traditions, negotiating new theories and providing continuity over time. Another similarity of the two experiences is that the opportunity was made available to many different  girls. Diversity and welcoming a broad spectrum of different people are valued at both places. Providing a rich environment in which to grow and learn in formative years and building skills for the future is something that I have great gratitude for and am committed to providing for our Runoia girls.

At school I certainly developed lifelong skills and am encouraged that girls have the opportunity to do the same in a fun and engaging summer experience at Runoia.


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