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July 2014 News

Reward for instilling the ANZAC spirit into our youth

  • Written by  Jess Everingham
Barry Rodgers OAM rides beside his daughter Lynda, during a Light Horse reenactment in Israel in 2012 Photo: Ian Anderson

Barry Rodgers has years of military and teaching experience behind his name as he runs the Emu Gully Adventure Education Group. Now he has an Order of Australia Medal behind it too.

The Helidon local received his OAM on the Queen’s Birthday holiday in June for his work with youth, military history and the Australian Light Horse Association.

He established Emu Gully in 1995 as an outdoor education centre to teach lessons not always found in school.

“I’ve been a classroom teacher and always believed there’s some things that you can’t teach in a classroom, particularly character values,” he said.

His military-themed camp instils ANZAC values in the next generation.

“It also develops their personal skills with communication, problem solving, working as a team and so on,” he said. “But importantly it confronts them with the ANZAC character values of mateship, sacrifice, perseverance and courage.”

“Those very closely align to Christian values.”

Emu Gully has been a part of Toowoomba’s Christian community since its inception, with heavy support from Toowoomba City Church (TCC), including Mark freeman, Phil Box and Ps Ian Shelton.

“If it hadn’t been for the support of those people in TCC I don’t believe Emu Gully would be here today,” Barry said.

“However the real unsung hero is my wife Gwenyth. Her work behind the scenes has been monumental.”

His involvement in the military has a strong influence on the camp. He is a director of the Australian Light Horse Association and editor of their magazine, Spur.

His involvement in the group led to two trips to Israel in 2007 and 2012. The 2007 trip saw the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Australian Light Horses’ storming of Beersheba.

The event included a meeting with then Australian ambassador to Israel, James Larson.

“He said it [the 90th anniversary celebrations] has done more for bilateral relations between the two countries, Australian and Israel, than all the diplomatic missions in the last 25 years,” Barry said.

He said the celebration was one of the most significant things he’s ever been involved in.

Over the next year, despite being semi retired, Barry still plans to share his insights with as many of the 15,000 young people expected at Emu Gully as he can.

He is also developing a gap year program, which will include a four week tour of Israel and Turkey.

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