Old Wisdom, Wellbeing, and Outdoor Ed. How does the Timbertop Programme boost wellbeing and what can we learn from this?

Miss Catherine Lamb1,2

1The Institute Of Positive Education, 2Timbertop, Geelong Grammar School

The Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School has grown fairly organically since 1952. It is a unique, year-long residential outdoor educational experience. The ‘wisdom of the past’ was that time in the outdoors, working hard with friends and overcoming physical challenge were beneficial to a person’s character and happiness.

The 2014 Geelong Grammar School Research Report, compiled by Melbourne University, investigated the wellbeing boost which students attained from attending Timbertop. Satisfaction with Life and Mental Wellbeing increased for the Timbertop students and decreased for the control over the time period. Conversely, Depression, Anxiety and Stress all increased for the control group and decreased for the Timbertop Students. The links between Positive Education and Outdoor Education are closely entwined, and this presentation will examine some elements of the program which may have caused these changes.


Cat is an experienced Outdoor Educator, currently completing a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and working as a trainer in Positive Education. She is passionate about exploring links between the science of wellbeing and outdoor education, which she thinks of as the practice of wellbeing. She has lectured and lead trips at both LaTrobe and Federation Universities.

About the Association

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

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