(Reproduced from the school magazine Vol. 134.1966 with permission from Christchurch Boys High School 2005)
KIDSON HOUSE ‑ ITS PLACE IN SCHOOL LIFE
In 1962 there came to fruition a project that had been a dream for ten years or more. According to the 1962 volume of this magazine it had been "felt that a hut or house in some mountain area would be of great value to the School for both recreation and education. Now, nearly five years later, the time has come to ask two important questions. Has the project measured up to those ideals which inspired it, and has the appropriately named "Kidson House" indeed become of "great value" to the school?
The most obvious indication that the School thinks Kidson House is worthwhile came in 1965 when the boys raised nearly £1,000 to expand the facilities by adding a further building and to enable the purchase of additional equipment for the comfort of the occupants. There are now permanent bunks for twenty‑nine and a further ten or fifteen can sleep under cover, on the floor. This means that a full class of thirty‑six boys can easily be accommodated and fed, no matter how bad the weather might be. In addition, the installation of a more efficient generator (the third unit to be tried) may have overcome the difficulties of servicing and maintenance experienced so far. Should any further expansion of facilities be contemplated, then those staff members who administer the House must ask themselves whether the opportunities for inculcating self‑reliance in the boys are not being somewhat limited by too much comfort and equipment.
A further indication of the value of a mountain house is the use made of it, and it is pleasing to record that the occupancy rate remains quite high even after four and a half years. Much, however, will depend on the amount of interest shown by the staff, for all School parties must be accompanied by a staff member. It may be that the time will come when the Parent‑Teacher Association should be asked to take some active part in the supervision of parties, for there is already considerable pressure on those staff members willing and sufficiently free of other commitments to go.
At present the use made of Kidson House falls into four main categories: academic, recreational, Cadet Corps, and outside educational organisations. Academic use comprises class parties, whose man objective is field work in specialised subjects such as geography, biology, and botany. In these fields the House is of inestimable value, and there is no doubt that much greater use could be made of it, especially since it is School policy to allow such trips to be made in school time. The arts departments of the School have not even started to explore the possible uses they could exploit. There has yet to be a language camp, at which only the language being studied is spoken, a sketching week‑end, a writers' convention, or a mathematical survey. Considerably more thought and planning must be put in before its full scholastic value is realised
Recreationally, too, more could be made of Kidson House, which is splendidly placed to act as a base for climbing and tramping. None of the surrounding hills and mountains is too difficult or dangerous to provide a first‑class training ground, yet comparatively few boys of the School have been into the area. No doubt a revitalised Tramping Club could encourage much better use in this direction. At present parties from the Hostel and the families of staff members gain most recreational benefit from the House.
Because it is in a National Park, where strict rules apply for the conservation of natural assets, Kidson House has only limit ‑value for the School Cadet Battalion, yet it is this organisation that has perhaps made best use of the area. The Special Training Unit, the Jungle Training Unit, and the sixth‑form company have all camped in the area and used it for training in specialised drills. Such use was not envisaged when a mountain hut was first mooted and the School must take care to ensure that over‑exuberant use and abuse of the area by the Cadets does not result in restrictions being placed on the uses for which the House was primarily intended.
The fourth group to use Kidson House is usually made up of pupils from other schools or University students, who may themselves gain much of value from it, but in fact they serve mainly to emphasise that Christchurch Boys' High School is not itself making the best possible use of its own asset.
It will be apparent, therefore, that the School possesses in Kidson House an asset which is potentially of considerable value in many aspects of school life, but which is in some ways being neglected. Probably as the novelty factor disappears and visits to it become a routine part of school life more of this potential value will be realised, but there are still many problems. The original driving force and enthusiast, Mr J. 0. Kidson has now retired and it remains to be seen whether the basic interest generated by him will remain. It is probably up to the boys of the School to see that the most is made of Kidson House by indicating clearly to the staff their readiness to arrange their own trips, by showing a willingness to tackle the less pleasant aspects of such trips, such as keeping the place clean, and by fully exploiting its educational and recreational possibilities. When this happens, the staff members will be ready to provide the necessary opportunities and guidance.