Julie Elizabeth Jones Interview (Outward Bound)

Today is the 4th May 2016.  I’m interviewing Julie Jones, nee Farrell, about her life and times and her association with the Anakiwa and the Outward Bound movement. Julie would you like to tell us something about your family and what all lead up to this interest you had. Thank you.

Well to go a long way back I was Julie Farrell, and as a family we were always very interested in the outdoors and in sport. My father was in the Army during the war and he believed in physical exercise as a discipline.  And I went off to Teachers College in time and trained as a teacher, and continued with sporting interests and encouraged it in the students that I taught, and then had my own children.

And it was during the time that our children were at school in Havelock North that they were taking outdoor education trips to Waikaremoana to Camp Kaitawa, and I became involved with some trips there as a helper as much as anything and was absolutely blown away by the effect of an outdoor education programme.  And I could see young children grow enormously in all sorts of ways, not just physically, but they were being extended and having to push themselves, but they had to think about other people, show some leadership, work as a team, respect the environment – all these things that they were learning that there was no way they could have learnt as effectively in the classroom, and this really interested me greatly. I remember being at an official dinner in Hastings about that time and I happened to be seated next to Piet Van Asch of Aerial Mapping who had been the President of the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand.  And I must have just come back from one of these trips to Camp Kaitawa, and was chatting to him about the beauty of the place generally and about what I’d discovered really about outdoor education.  And Piet showed real interest in this, and talked to me about the Outward Bound movement in general and how it was started by Kurt Hahn from Germany, who had to get out of Germany quickly because he was disagreeing in the early thirties about Hitler’s carry-ons in Germany and eventually started the Outward Bound Movement in the UK. From that Pite asked me if I would like to visit Anakiwa and just see what happened there, and eventually that is exactly what happened and I went down to an Outward Bound council meeting with Piet Van Asch, Barry Sweet and others from Hawke’s Bay and I just couldn’t have been more impressed by the movement generally. It was quite spartan, but the instructors were outstanding in their work with young people of eighteen to twenty-six, for twenty-four days in those days, and I couldn’t have been more impressed and it actually changed my thinking about teaching completely.  And I’ll perhaps come back to that later because it did make a huge impact on me.

From that time, or that visit, I eventually was … and I can’t remember the number of years but I went down a couple of times I suppose … and then was eventually elected to the Council as a representative from Hawke’s Bay, and really enjoyed my visits down there. As I say it made a huge impact on my life as a teacher, and as a parent actually – very much so.

And so eventually I was going down there two or three times a year – going out on all the different schemes that they run, boating, kayaking, rock climbing and so on.  But I think what interested me particularly was that they had a three-day solo experience where they were briefed very heavily before they went out and were dropped on their own out into the bush for three days where they had to contemplate about their lives as their lives had been, and looking towards the future as to how they might face the rest of their lives.

The other scheme that particularly interested me was that of service where they went into the community around Anakiwa and gave service in some way – it might have been chopping wood for old people, or cleaning or clearing scrub and so on. Most impressed with those two schemes in particular, because the rest is fairly physical and that’s just a tool that they use to get the most out of an individual.

They are put into groups of fourteen. Those groups are chosen very wisely in that they are mixed socio-economically, ethnically, geographically and ‘at risk’ students who go there each time. There would be one or two of them in each group of fourteen as well so that they get to respect each other and their lives and help each other.

I think in terms of how it changed me was  … I think that my father went to the war – he was in the Army and when he came back I was about five or six, and discipline – and harsh discipline – was the answer. Cold showers, never speak back, ‘no’ meant ‘no’, and you didn’t even frown at your mother or father in disapproval of anything.  And discipline was strong, and when I was first teaching, I think that was the way I taught.  I think I just ruled with a rod of iron, and Outward Bound made me see things a little differently in that discipline was not so much to be imposed but more encouraging soft discipline, and respecting others’ equipment, environment, everything – and that changed my way of thinking. I then put my desk at the back of the classroom rather than at the front as a little example of change and quiet chats or ideas to students rather than hauling them up in front of others. All those little things that now I guess are just the way it is but in those days discipline was strong. People gave detentions and there was even caning when I was first at St John’s. So all those things changed my way of thinking tremendously.

In terms of getting involved with the council, I suppose it was twenty years before that, or fifteen maybe, that Outward Bound was all male.  And girls were allowed to come on courses before my time, but they were in separate watches. They were never mixed until into my time.  And I remember Piet Van Asch saying that he spoke out against bringing girls into the courses, and his way of explaining that was that he didn’t think we should turn fillies into draught horses with all that activity – physical activity. He felt it was too tough. But anyway now of course it’s very mixed, and mixed within the watches.

So it was unusual for the first few years for women to be involved in management and I think the reason that they wanted me to become President of the Trust was because they wanted it to be seen I think, that women could be a major part of this organisation, and I think that was the main thrust there. So I was very lucky to have that opportunity.  And within that I met some amazing people up and down New Zealand, because in those days every province had a strong Outward Bound group working to get students to build awareness within the area, to help students get the funding, to keep the Service Clubs interested, the schools interested, because in my time I pushed very hard to get more teachers on courses and we certainly did from Hawke’s Bay, because I believed, like me, it would change their thinking about teaching.  And those organisations up and down the country were a strong part of the organisation which no longer exists. It’s now just a … it’s more of a business model now from Wellington, which has happened in a lot of organisations I gather.

So part of my role was to keep that flow of interest in all the Associations, visiting them and giving them ideas on how to get more students, how to help students get funding, how to get the equipment they needed in terms of clothing and so on. That was a big part of my role was those associations, and Hawke’s Bay became quite strong over those years. Piet Van Asch was still involved, people like Ross Stark, Geoff Howell, Bev Christison – I’ll think of one or two others – but they played a great role and they created a calendar every year which was sold nationally which gave people photos of what went on at Anakiwa as well as some information on the background and how to get involved and so on.  That was a good project and it kept our group together too. We all contributed. We used to have little sayings because philosophy was strong at Outward Bound. We used to have a saying for each month, and I think just keeping that philosophy alive was a big part of my job as well.

Before I finished my time I was appointed one of the six guardians of Outward Bound and the purpose of that at that time was to ensure that the philosophy was kept to, because it is a very strong philosophy. And when I went to the international conference in upstate New York, New Zealand Outward Bound was highly esteemed for keeping to the strong philosophy as opposed to allowing just business to take over and just become a financial tool. So I think we were able to do that and I think that’s been continued.

We’ve had some very fine school directors and wonderful, wonderful instructors who worked – you know, fifteen, sixteen hours a day to ensure that the best possible course was there for each student that attended.  They were very, very strong young people. A lot of them were teachers and took two and a half years out of their lives to give something back to Outward Bound which was great. It’s a fantastic organisation that I was very proud to be part of.  So much learning took place, you know, even if it was little things like … I don’t know – table manners, waiting for everybody to have their meal before you started yours. Tiny things like that. Cleaning the bathrooms. [Chuckle]  Helping with the cooking and the cleaning up and all those things were just part of the way of life, so the outdoors was just the tool.

Was Lou Dolman there?

Yes, he was.

I remember the time he used to give outside being a policeman. He was trapped too, at the love of the place.

Absolutely. I remember those caves that you go through and for a lot of young people, and some of these were as young as eleven and twelve year olds, for a few of them that was a terrifying thing and yet with the help of … and we encouraged the help of their own peer group … they would make it. Tears and everything else, but they made it.  And the way that they grew as a result was incredible, so you found leadership qualities in kids that were shy and when you went back to the classroom the teacher had a different relationship with the students ‘cause there was a greater understanding of …

Well they all understood one another, and they shared the hard times and the happy times. Some of those climbs we used to do – our children were never that fit at school.

Panakeri.

Panakeri – that was a gut buster and then there was the long slow one up to the lake, but it was really wonderful – a wonderful experience for them. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen too much these days because it’s become too expensive.

That’s what killed it at Havelock Intermediate I remember. Taking a bus away for a week and that five or six days that we had – that was wonderful because so many camps now are just a day or two.  But when I became more involved at St John’s College I was very keen on the Third Form – as it was then – Year 9 Camp, and to begin with we had five days out at Waimarama at the Marist camp there, and we used a lot of the Outward Bound group initiative activities at Waimarama that you know, I’d seen used at Anakiwa.

And they’re really success stories.

They are indeed. But what worries me now is this business of safety and OSH and a lot of teachers are not prepared to get involved now because of the liability, and that’s sad.

We had trouble sometimes getting … some classes couldn’t go because they couldn’t get a teacher. They wouldn’t become accredited and that was even then.

Yeah – that’s a bit sad and of course safety is a huge thing at Anakiwa. They’ve had a couple of problems.

So do you still have an interest in Anakiwa?

I don’t go any more partly because physically with hip problems over many years I was not able to take part as I would have once before, because if you do go down you want to go out on some of the schemes and see what’s happening. One of the things that I remember was they always felt a failure if a student ever left a course, and there were different ways that different instructors handled that – if a student felt they couldn’t cope any more and didn’t want to be there – and there were all sorts of different ways of handling that.  And I remember one instructor who said he had a student who came to him – the instructor had been aware that he had been talking about wanting to leave.  And the instructor handled it in what I thought was quite a brutal way but in fact it worked.   The young person came to him and the instructor said “why are you here?”  And the student said “well, I thought you’d want to talk to me because you know that I’m wanting to leave”, and he said “well if you want to leave that’s what you’d better do. Your group at the moment is out on the ropes course so you either go back to the ropes course or we make arrangements for you to leave.” And I thought “oh my gosh”, you know – this doesn’t seem to be the way.  But he had got to know this student. He knew what was the right way to handle it and the student walked away.  And he said “as a matter of fact I’m a bit busy now, so you decide” and left it, very firmly, back in his court.  And then he said as soon as the student had gone he sort of found ways of observing him, and next thing he knew the student was back on the ropes course. It wouldn’t work with all students.

But then that was the Army style.

Absolutely.

When you said this trainer said “you either stay or you go”, that’s discipline.  There’s no question about it, but it’s imposed by the person himself.  Fascinating.

It is fascinating, and because they’ve got fourteen individuals for – I think it’s twenty-one days now instead of twenty-four, ‘cause twenty-one became better for the employer – they get to know each student and what works for one isn’t going to work for another and they had all these different ways of challenging them.  You know, some of course would thrive on the water activities, some would thrive on the bush activities, some would thrive on the service, and some really struggled with the solo, being on their own with a limited amount of food for three days, and others absolutely relished it because they’d never had that sort of space to do their thinking.

Did your children go?

Two of the three definitely went, the girls both went.  And their children will go as well, without a doubt.  And the one that didn’t go, our son didn’t go for various reasons – just timing and so on wasn’t great, and his daughter is now a phys ed teacher. She’s been to Anakiwa.  When she’s registered as a teacher after the next couple of years one of her aims would be to instruct at Outward Bound. So she understands where I’m coming from which is lovely for me. She takes outdoor education very seriously as a teacher.

You know once you introduce young ones to the bush, the adventures that can be had – it’s infectious, they just carry on. I see my children just going on and on. Only one went to Anakiwa but the other two boys have done things equal to Anakiwa. They found their niche in the outdoor activities. It’s interesting, but some children sadly don’t get that opportunity do they.

No they don’t. And the other thing that I really enjoyed when I was heavily involved locally, was that they were always encouraged to contact their sponsors or people who had helped them when they returned home, and they would ring me up and Richard would raise his eyebrows when he realised it was a student, because an hour later we’d got to day four. [Chuckle]  You know, they just wanted to talk to somebody who understood what it had done for them, and you know, that was wonderful.

And it’s good for them too, to have someone that they could talk to about it.

And it’s wonderful to know that it has lasted, because so many organisations with the huge changes – technology and so on – I wondered how it would go now where students have to leave their phones at home or in the safe at Anakiwa while they are out for twenty … I haven’t heard how that’s going, but …

They can’t even go to the movies and not text.

So I wondered, you know, how on earth … but I think most of the sorts of young people who are going would understand that this is something they would have to give up for the time. And there’d be others who would find sneaky ways – well that’s their loss really, and a lot of that is …  And the spartan living has continued which is good – you know, the bunks are hard, the equipment is safe but that’s all. There are no frills, the meals are good but if you don’t like cabbage, that’s tough.

Well, you know, we did a lot of tramping with the kids, so a lot of the huts we were in – they were just boards and the food we had was dried or stuff we carried – never a complaint. And after you’d been walking all day in the rain, you got there and you had something hot cooked – it was wonderful. It was the reward.

I think that’s the other thing, was the weather. The course continues. You go for your morning run whatever the weather and you plunge into the sea when you’ve done your run, and you know, it’s all just the way it is – that’s what you do.

Can you think of anything else that you’d like to say?

I don’t think so. I had intended to talk a little bit about Kurt Hahn the founder, but all that information is easily available and I’m not sure that it’s relevant for today.

I think probably it is.

Well I was fascinated with the story of Kurt Hahn and as I mentioned he opposed Hitler and had to get out of Germany quickly.  And he was a well-known educator in Germany, very highly respected, and he – I think from memory he started the Gordonstoun School which took on royalty and any other students, not just royalty.  But it was Laurence Holt of – I think it was the Blue Line Shipping – who was noticing that the young merchant seamen had no survival skills.  You know, if they were in the lifeboat or thrown into the water or whatever they just gave in. They had no idea of survival, and he talked to Kurt Hahn and began a survival school initially, for young men, to teach them how to survive in the outdoors.  So it sort of began a bit like that, and from there he developed eventually an Outward Bound school in Abu Dhabi with this philosophy of striving, of giving service, of having respect for others and the environment and so on, and that eventually was developed in other countries as well, New Zealand included in 1962.  And I just found him a fantastic person to study, and I found that when students came back some of them used him as an example for a talk or a paper they were giving or whatever, as an inspiration in all sorts of ways.

New Zealand was lucky of course that many high-profile business people got involved in those early days and that’s how the funding with Lord Cobham, Woolf Fisher and people like that. That concerned me a bit when I was asked to be more heavily involved, was that I didn’t have those connections or didn’t have the ability to get into companies and find funds.  But we had other people to do that and my role was a completely different one. The beginnings of it were quite an inspiration.  And I think the nice thing for me over all those years was that everybody felt good about Outward Bound.  Most things that you’re involved with, there’s going to be some people who don’t like it, or don’t approve, or don’t admire it or respect it, but I haven’t ever come across anybody who disagrees with the Outward Bound philosophy and movement.

It gave the right vibes didn’t it?

Yeah.  It was a lovely thing to be part of.  And the people that were involved were quite incredible, right from High Court Judges to … I remember a lovely fellow who was a wharfie in Dunedin … so that you had a broad spectrum of people on the council that met every year.  And I used to organise discussion groups and I’d deliberately mix those people so that you had those who were not so able to perhaps express themselves so easily had an opportunity to give to the council in a small group situation so there was a lot of interesting people that I now know up and down the country.

Well I know we used to have a selection of people to go to Outward Bound. We had lots of applicants because they were fully sponsored, and quite often we would select the person that we felt would get the greatest benefit.  And so this was happening throughout the country – this cross-section being fed in.

As well as looking at Government Departments and ‘at risk’ kids as well. It’s been a fantastic organisation.

I can’t actually think of anything else that … the people – David Bird was another person that was very involved here, very active – I’m not sure if I mentioned him.  But being part of the Hawke’s Bay group was great too, and as I say getting so many teachers on courses.  We used to go into the schools, and once a teacher from a school had been on a course, of course they would then promote it within their school, so Hastings Girls’ was strong; St John’s was strong of course. Napier Boys’ had some, Taradale. It was good.

No, I’m very lucky.

All right, well if you think that has covered it … thank you Julie for giving us that opportunity to have a look in the window of Anakiwa and your association with it.  So thank you very much.

Pleasure … enjoyed that, thank you.

Original digital file

JonesJE1204_Final_Oct17.ogg

Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

Accession number

1204/42552

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