Four-week faith journeys worth Googaling
Bradley Teakle has been working at Googa Outdoor Education Centre (OEC) at Blackbutt for almost two decades. He began as a camp instructor in 1999, before taking on the reins as director in 2008. Having experienced Ironbark as a student with St Peters College Indooroopilly, being heavily involved with LYQ, and later working on a farm for 17 years, he had the perfect storm of experience to fit right into such a specialised role.
‘The Googa Outdoor Education Program is a four-week program which challenges students relationally, spiritually, physically and mentally’, Bradley explains. ‘The key to the experience is living in community where there is shared cooking, cleaning and other chores in a technology-free environment.’
The program’s owner schools are Grace, Good Shepherd and Grace Primary, while their user schools include St Andrews and Concordia. Googa has also run programs for local state schools and the Department of Communities.
As well as being exposed to endurance, hardship and responsibility outside of many of their comfort zones, the students are also given an opportunity to explore their own spirituality during their time at the program. ‘This happens through worship services and quiet times, but probably more importantly through random conversations on hikes or during a job routine, or just through the culture and relational environment created by staff through faith in Christ’, Bradley says. ‘Because of the challenging nature of community living there are ample opportunities to share the gospel in everyday life.’
‘We have a framework of values based on an acronym of G.O.O.G.A’, Bradley continues, ‘Grace, Optimism, Order, Generosity and Authenticity. Students typically grow in these values and others. They experience a greater sense of perspective of the blessings we enjoy living in a first-world country. They develop a sharper awareness of how to limit our environmental impact and they grow in empathy as they grow in understanding themselves and those around them.’
As Director of Googa OEC Bradley finds it rewarding to be involved in a program that has such diverse scope and is valued so highly by so many. He also finds fulfillment knowing that for those who don’t like it there will still be growth.
Bradley feels strongly that outdoor education programs act as one of the best avenues through Lutheran Education and the LCA to provide a pathway for young people to explore God. ‘A key element is students and staff being immersed in God’s creation away from social media and home comforts. This opens the mind’, he explains, strongly encouraging parents to consider enrolling their children in schools where such programs are run.
He asks that congregations and individuals pray for, and think of, the practical, hard-working Christians who can share an earthy faith during their work in outdoor centres. Please also keep in your prayers those who work at the Ironbark and Mt Binga programs.
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