Up the Creek

Provider Overview

Up the creek is founded on a commitment to developing the whole person, enabling them to thrive as part of a living system, in the Anthropocene. Founder and director, Derek Cook, has 30 years experience in education focused on dancing with forces beyond our direct control.  Wind and water are ever present forces that mirror the increasing complexity of modern life.   Derek believes in trust and expectation for creating environments and cultures that place people in the pilot’s chair. It is about enabling them to wrestle with their situation to co-create their own program and takeaways

OUR MISSION: Using canoes to work with the dynamics of water and wind to encourage new ways of seeing, learning and behaving in the Anthropocene.

Up the Creek offers students the opportunity to get out of everyday life and into the rhythm of water heading Up The Creek for a unique experience. Dedicated to helping students slow down and engage with the natural world. 

Up the Creek offers an inspiring journey-based program with learning outcomes as relevant to a changing world as they are to a curriculum.

Up the Creek offers bespoke canoe learning Journeys tailored to your schools needs and requirements. With all activities designed to ignite curiosity about the environment and empower students to connect with themselves and the world around them, Up the Creek camps inspire, and provoke new ways of thinking that will remain long after students’ step ‘off the boat’ and back into the everyday. 

Our Journey Programs are staffed by exceptional outdoor education facilitators as well as inspiring practising artists.

Primary programs: Learning in Nature, slow pedagogy, deeper learning.

→ Suggested locations

  • Collingwood Childrens Farm
  • Float 3909 Lake Tyers, Bung Yarnda
  • Birrarung, Yarra river, Melbourne. 
  • Cape Liptrap.
  • 90 mile beach Gippsland. Relive the incredible survival story of the Sydney cove in 1798. This quiet part of our history led to the discovery of Melbourne.
  • Mitchell River National Park

Secondary programs

→ Suggested locations

  • Lake Tyers,  Bung Yarnda in partnership with FLOAT 3909
  • Birrarung, Yarra River. Intertwine the built up and natural worlds of Melbourne 
  • Collingwood Children’s Farm 
  • Gippsland Lakes- Journey the old steam trading route from Sale to Paynesville (or Lakes Entrance)
  • Glenelg River
  • Murray River
  • Mitchell River

Program activities can include but are not limited to: 

River ecosystem educationResident artists 
Ecological awareness Bush cooking 
Bush walkingLeadership activities & Team Building
Bee Farm visit and educational experienceStorytelling
CampingSailing / Sea Kayaking 

➢Any art made by students during the program will be eligible for inclusion in a special post-experience exhibition that will showcase and celebrate young minds and their connection to nature.

Our Journey Programs can be tailored to both primary school and secondary school students and the skill level/experience of students.

Our program dates are flexible, please get in touch to discuss possible dates and program availability.

Email discoveries@upthecreekmelbourne.com to Book. Please include an overview of your needs, group size and objectives if appropriate.

Hello UTC,

I’ve just spent the last few days trying to explain how a camp in week 1 of term 4 could result in the most inspiring 5 days of what I consider amazing PD.

I had the chance to chat to you about how authentic your program is – no smoke and mirrors; you claim to be fostering independence, forcing these kids to have independent and creative thought and that is exactly what you do – and then some.  It has made me really take a look at how I have approached teaching and learning – what my intentions are and what purpose I am trying to serve and I want to thank you for that.

The kids and their parents have commented on how they feel such a sense of independence. How empowering – especially for this bunch who lucky for them, mostly want for nothing and have everything done for them –  however, this seems to have a crippling impact on their ability to problem solve. I don’t think it would have nearly the same impact if the program was not in their hands – actually I know it wouldn’t. You and I both saw a change in them happening on the program – but it is so much more than that.

We have come back to long division (snore). I have a number of students that approach maths lessons with nothing short of a closed mind and absolutely no confidence – they don’t even try new concepts independently. Well…that wasn’t the case. All three students gave it a red hot crack straight off the bat and were so excited when they realised they were making ground. One said, ‘I still got some things really wrong, but I know more about it now than I did this morning.’

I love that my kids keep saying ‘embrace the uncomfortable’, ‘confusion is where I have to think the most’ and ‘challenge is a good thing’. I love that they are collaborating with each other – that there is this palpable bond now.

Derek, you and your crew taught my kids that they are competent, valued humans who have the ability to make massive contributions to the world around them – not starting in 2024 when they have ticked all our curriculum boxes – but right now. On their behalf, I would like to thank you.

Kindest Regards

Tahlia Anver


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The Positive Start 2022 is supported by the Victorian Government.