Meet our Staff: Brenton Hobson

Not all those who wander are lost

When Brenton Hobson was only about six years old, he went on a day hike with his father and uncle deep into Springbrook National Park. They arrived at their destination by late afternoon, a fair bit later than expected, then turned to head back. Before long, however, they realised they were lost.

“Night set in and we didn’t have a tent or sleeping bag so we had to make a bit of a bush campsite,” says Brenton.

When his mum realised the little group was unlikely to get back that night, she called the State Emergency Service. Brenton still recalls trying to fall asleep with the helicopters flying overhead. “We had a whistle and were blowing it but were in pretty dense bush so they couldn’t hear us.”

Next morning, they navigated their way back out onto a road where they were met by one of the SES searchers. “He was asking us: ‘Have you seen anyone that looks lost out there in the bush? We’ve lost two men and a little boy’. Then he described us. We totally met the description – but he didn’t seem to notice! So we said: ‘Yeah, we think that might be us!”

Even though “I vividly remember being scared”, this early misadventure didn’t turn Brenton off subsequent bushwalks, like accompanying his dad (Darryl Hobson) and the Duke of Edinburgh participants from Northpine Christian College on bushwalks and camps when he was only eight or nine. Nor did it put him off joining the Duke of Edinburgh program with his school mates in high school. And now that Brenton’s a teacher at BAC, it certainly hasn’t put him off coordinating the school DofE teams! 

“Getting lost was a bit of an adventure,” he says. “Even although it was only meant to be a day walk, we had matches and a light – the things that the average person going out for a walk would not have. We were prepared enough to make fire and stay warm.”

Like his father, who still coordinates DofE at Northpine Christian College, Brenton now teaches BAC students to navigate through the bush and survive in bush conditions. During camps, he and his DofE students join forces with Northpine, which means the program is always sociable and fun.

“Unfortunately, kids don’t get out and about in nature very much anymore,” says Brenton. “Most of them don’t get to go to places where there’s no mobile reception. With DofE you’re taking them out rain, hail or shine. You’re forcing them out of their comfort zone; they have to solve problems, they have to step up and take on the qualities of leadership that normal life might not require, they have to discuss things as a group and make group decisions. Teamwork and leadership skills come out naturally in the bush and on camps and you can really see that kids love it! They might say they ‘hate it’ in the moment, but as soon as it’s over you hear them saying: ‘Remember how…?’ and laughing. It’s the experiences they’re creating that you can really tell they treasure.”

According to Brenton, when teenagers experience a challenge, they often react differently from what you’d expect. “Some will break down for a moment and say ‘I can’t do this’, but it can be the ones you don’t expect who will be absolutely fine and start encouraging others. What we try and teach is that in a group you will have different personalities. We aim to build a culture of acceptance, but acceptance just naturally develops on a camp. I’ve never witnessed a group putting each other down! Something about being outside and not having technology gives you a happy spirit. You’re more present. In the moment.” 

There’s more to the Duke of Edinburgh program than outdoor adventure. Participants do four types of activities at progressively demanding levels:  

  1. Service – volunteering time to assist others in their community
  2. Physical recreation – improving fitness and discovering new sports or active recreation
  3. Skills – undertaking a new interest or hobby (such as learning an instrument) or extending a current one
  4. Adventurous journey – undertaken in an unfamiliar environment and creating opportunities for team building 

These fit perfectly with a core College goal of providing opportunities for character development, or, as we say, helping students learn how to become ‘crew rather than mere passengers’.  

“All four dimensions are things that a healthy person should be involved in. This is important for mental health, perfect for developing habits and skills in young people, and perfect for the resume,” says Brenton.

Want to know more about the Duke of Edinburgh Award?

The program was founded by Prince Phillip and educator Kurt Hahn. Mrs Entermann wrote about Kurt Hahn’s educational philosophy in a recent Charting Course article: 'There is more in you than you think!

There are three levels, completed consecutively, often (but not necessarily) started in about Year 9:

  1. Bronze Award – minimum of 6 months
  2. Silver Award – minimum of 12 months
  3. Gold Award – minimum of 18 months

The adventurous journey element of each award, for which DofE is best known, requires participants go on three camps. Two are practice walks and one is an assessment. During the assessment, they must prove that they can navigate from one place to another (always within sight of the teacher). 

Want to join BAC’s Duke of Edinburgh program in 2018?

You can join the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme if you are between the ages of 14 and 25. Students who are not quite 14 but already in Year 9 are also eligible to join the program. 

If you’re interested in joining next year’s program, please see Mr Hobson for an application form. You will need to register as an award participant on the official Duke of Edinburgh website. Costs include registration, paid directly to DofE, plus costs per activity including approximately $20-$30 per camp and sporting or activity fees (if applicable) to other organisations. 

Let’s go bush next year!


We’d like to take the opportunity to thank the dedicated staff who have volunteered years of extracurricular effort to keep the Duke of Edinburgh Awards alive at BAC. The program has been a positive influence in the lives of so many students! Integral to setting up and coordinating the program are Reg Morgan, Carol Bacon, Ian Sonter, Clinton Jackson, and now Brenton Hobson. However, there are many many others who have also supported the program over the years.