Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Western Affluence and Teens

Working with Students again. And thoughts on Western Affluence.

A few days ago, after several phone calls, I secured a week’s work with my old employer in Brisbane. At the end of March, doing a week with 15 yr olds in the Mt Barney area – which I know well (see previous posts on the area). Just on the Border of NSW/ QLD, on the scenic rim of mountains, it’s a great area for outdoor activities. With spectacular mt Barney rising up alone to 1300m above the plain. And several lakes and outdoor centres. This center is “mt barney lodge”, a very nice campground/ B&B combo, right next to Mt Barney.
I ring up the center and fall on Stafford, an English immigrant who’s been on several camps that I’ve worked on (with other kids). He’s an ex-fireman and quite experienced in the outdoors. Funny to be talking with him, now working at the Lodge. I’m looking forwards to our “Recce” day –Beer and BBQ nxt Sunday, then recce on Monday.

Now I’ve had a bit of a break from kids, I can work refreshed… they can be hard work between about 14 and 17 … you always get a minority who are lazy, surly and obnoxious, which can test my patience to it’s limit, especially on expeditions when they complain about being asked to do their turn doing the dishes.

You really need 3 weeks of expeditioning to work thru all the “attitude” of some teens, and get them spontaneously working for the common good and enjoying the expedition. I almost prefer kids from “working class” schools – it might take some work initially to reduce their swearing, but then they are more receptive to new ways of doing things, very interested in rock climbing which they have never done etc And they chip in and do the dishes and tell off those who are lazy… I know from having had such a group up in Nth Qld.

Many of the problems of today’s kids stem from an excess of ease – to many video games, too much food, too much given to them and not enough asked from them. They end up lazy, sometimes rude and with a vague sense of discontent (which stems from not having pushed themselves either mentally or physically, or taken responsibility for anything, I reckon) which they can try and fill with drugs, hooning etc.
Meantime, Kids in Kurdistan work to support the family, and brave minefields to smuggle textbooks over the border so they can write down stuff at school… Lots of western kids need a month in Kurdistan/ similar in my opinion. They’d never take anything for granted again.

Affluence is good – If you know how to appreciate it, don’t take it for granted. Also you need to know the difference between basic survival needs, useful things, and luxuries – particularly if living in a city – or you become a treadmill of working to buy luxuries you don’t need and which don’t satisfy deeply. I find I spend easily in cities – Melbourne was fun, but there’s nothing else to do but spend… on cafes, meals out, transportation, rent…
Whereas in the campsite at Arapiles I lived for 140$ + 10$ per week (my food bill + fuel bill to Horsham and back) . it was like being in a natural monastery – eat, sleep, do challenging climbs, read, watch sunsets, talk with fellow travellers… no temptations like cafes and such, unless you drive a bit.
The campsite is 2$ per day… when the ranger can be bothered collecting it.

The Kurds wish they could have the Aussie std of living – but you need to learn to appreciate it if you are born in it. Hence the immigrants from Italy etc who do well in Australia – they can see all the advantages and know that their hard work here can make them rich, as opposed to their home countries, where Corruption/Governement regulations and taxes/ mafias skimming profits/civil War, can make it very difficult to get ahead.


Cecilia said...

It's true - being given everything and having an easy life really does tend to spoil kids. :(
Which is why your outdoor adventures are *really* good for them.

Anonymous said...

thanks celia.