• Eco Outings

    Bushwalks with young men from refugee backgrounds

EcoOutings is a partnership project between North Coast Settlement Services, NPWS and the Centre for Ecological Learning.

Engaging young boys to become self-reliant and develop a better sense of identity and belonging to assist them to identify the importance of engaging in their education.

  • “I now know more about the area I live in and, when my parents buy a car, I will be able to show them places to go as a family””

About Eco Outings

10 young men between 13-20 facilitated by a senior CEL male mentor and a junior CEL mentor

The walks ran on Sundays from 9.30 am-3.30 pm. Lunch, morning/afternoon tea and water were supplied. Participants were collected from their homes. Robin Ashley, who has experience working with people from a refugee background, would attend each trip and a bus driver.

It was identified that some young men from refugee backgrounds were becoming unengaged from high schools in Coffs Harbour.  Discussion between teachers and ESL Coordinator at Coffs Harbour High School, established the concept of Eco Outings, a project aimed at engaging young boys between the ages of 13 and 20 to become self-reliant and develop a better sense of identity and belonging, that could assist them to identify and reflect on the importance of engaging in their education.

Whilst the project would be most beneficial to those boys who were already unengaged from school, to maximise the potential of the project’s success by enhancing participation likelihood,  it was identified that the project would initially be offered to young boys between 13-20 who were at risk of becoming unengaged in education as a result of their barriers. 

Funded by the North Coast Settlement Services, the project would be offered on weekends, it was important to identify young men who would engage in extra-curriculum activities outside school hours.

In order to maximise the exposure of the project to boys from different Coffs Harbour Schools, it was decided to offer the initial opportunity to boys from Coffs Harbour High School and Orara High School.  ESL teachers from both schools offered the opportunity to the boys who they believed were most suitable and who would benefit from the project.

Project Objectives:

  • Have fun in the outdoors, with each other, and with inspiring mentors
  • Experience adventure based activities that also incorporated interpersonal skill development
  • Feel an increased sense of connection to nature, and become empowered with a better sense of identity and belonging

“This was the best day of my life”

“It was great to see what the Australian bush was like”

“I didn’t know how beautiful the country was close to Coffs Harbour”

“It was great learning about the aboriginal people, and especially how they used to make fires”

“I enjoyed challenging myself to do the walks”


Walk 1 – Red Cedar Falls Loop

Walk 2 – Tuckers Rock to Bundagen Headland – Bongil Bongil National Park

Walk 3 – Killingoondie Plains Walk

Walk 4 – Watergum Falls Fig Tree Hike

Walk 5 – Urunga Beach Walk to Valla


  • Orienteering

    Introduction to the basics of navigation, making their way through an orienteering course

  • Initiative Exercises/Games

    Emphasising teamwork, communication, problem solving and fun

  • Bushwalking

    Gaining an appreciation of the local landscape and ecology

  • Ancestral Skills

    Fire making from hand drill, creating rope/cordage, shelter building principles, bird language

  • Sensory Awareness Exercises

    Blindfolded exercises that teach communication and problem solving

  • Emergency Scenarios

    First aid and decision making in backcountry emergency situations

Contact CEL to tailor a project like this for your organisation