BSSC student Luke Barker recently joined 99 other young men for the Lord Somers week-long camp. The program, with a history stretching back to 1929, still holds to its original goal: to promote social cohesion and heal divisions within our society.

The organisation’s adventure programs for young men (and women) teach communication skills and leadership. The activities foster improved decision-making, self-control and self-esteem. Participants discover new personal strengths and abilities.

In Luke’s case he discovered that a committed sportsperson could successfully help produce and act in a play.

Luke read about the Lord Somers Camp in a school newsletter and was initially attracted to the idea of an adventure by the beach and a chance to enhance his leadership skills—he’s captain of his soccer club this year. But the highlight was the incredible relationships that Luke formed with others in his 20-person group.

Those in each group were constantly in each other’s company and the camp placed them in physical and psychological situations where their actions had direct and important consequences for the whole team.

Somers Camp had profound impact. Luke says he has brought away all the benefits the camp promised, but also a capacity to be less judgemental.

Australian of the Year, David Morrison, spoke to participants about some of the serious inequities and intolerances that persist in Australia and urged the young men to do what they could in their own sphere to make change.

“The word ‘camp’ is stereotypically linked to school, but it was nothing like school,” Luke said. “We were expected to behave like responsible men from the start.”