Pictured: Cam Barry
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cameron Barry was made redundant from his very successful career as an outdoor educator. Instead of letting this adversity get him down, Cam started his own business. Outdoor Education Solutions Australia (OESA), helps schools create safe, fun and successful outdoor education programs.
Many private schools have faced financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cam experienced this firsthand after just four months in his role at a Victorian private school. Cam, and the entirety of the school’s outdoor education team, were made redundant. Instead of getting upset or angry about his redundancy, he reached out to his friends for advice. Cam’s friends suggested he use his years of experience as an outdoor educator to create his own, unique business.
‘Time to recalibrate the compass.’
Cam has over twenty years of experience as an outdoor educator. He has successfully operated successful programs throughout Australia and internationally. Many of these programs have lasted more than ten days and had over 250 staff and students. This experience has given him a solid understanding of what is required to create a successful outdoor education program and what schools need to make this possible. For outdoor education, Cam believes compliance and safety is always number one.
OESA work with schools to co-create an outdoor education program that suits the needs of all students. OESA can provide programs for children from Prep to Year 12 throughout Australia. However, travel restrictions are currently limiting his ability to offer on-site compliance checks. Cam offers extensive support to staff before, during and after every experience. He can also help schools source quality, experienced educators if necessary.
After twenty years of working within the education system, Cam had to re-train his brain to become a businessperson. Cam got advice from an experienced business adviser as well as a business coach to help him with the transition. The best thing he learnt from this experience was that starting a business is all about relationships. Cam believes it is important to surround yourself with people who have different strengths to you, so your strengths complement and benefit each other.
‘It is all about relationships, relationships, relationships.’
Cam was very comfortable in his role as the coordinator and head of outdoor education. Starting a business took him outside of his comfort zone, but he says it has been a fun and exciting journey. He is also thankful for the newfound freedom he has received by leaving his previous role. As a family man and dad, it is important to Cam that he has the freedom to watch his children grow. As a teacher, he would miss out on some of his children’s sports and plays because he was looking after other people’s children.
Resilience has been the key to Cam creating a positive outcome from the challenges he faced earlier this year. Cam has always been resilient. When he was eighteen, he left Hobart and travelled to America and Europe by himself. It was in America that he discovered his passion for outdoor education when he experienced American camps. Upon returning to Australia, Cam decided against taking over the family hospitality business and instead went to Latrobe University to pursue his passion for outdoor education.
OESA creates outdoor education programs that give children essential life skills, such as problem solving and resilience. Outdoor education no longer means being resilient enough to hike 20 kilometres with a backpack; outdoor education gets children away from screens so they can make real connections with their peers. Children need to be resilient so they can cope and remain positive when facing adversity, instead of crumbling. Resilience is a skill that will underpin everything our children do in their lives. Australian children have already faced many challenges this year, especially in Victoria.
‘Kids need resilience. If they don’t, what will the next generation be.’
Outdoor education will be more important than ever following the COVID-19 pandemic. Children throughout Australia, but especially Victoria, have been disadvantaged this year. They need to socialise, get to know each other, and have fun. Helping our children to form relationships with each other will be more important than ever as we all adjust to the new normal COVID-19 has created.
Cam is currently offering his expertise and services as a consultant for schools. He empowers them to run programs which are compliant, safe and beneficial to the students. The main services currently offered by Cam are:
- Risk management and ensuring schools have full compliance to run outdoor education programs.
- Spending time on-site, ensuring site compliance for general rules policies and procedures as well as new COVID-19 safe strategies.
- Assisting schools to find qualified, outdoor education teachers to work with students on an on-going basis.
Cam has big plans to expand the services offered by OESA, so be sure to keep up to date with OESA online through his website and social media.
Cam’s passion and love from outdoor education is clear from the minute you speak to him. So, if you are considering how to create a safe, outdoor education program for your school – contact Cam today at [email protected]. His enthusiasm and positivity are sure to get you excited about all the opportunities you could give your students.