Australian Alps Navigator – April 2015

Day 1

They have arrived! Welcome to our participants on the Outward Bound Australia April Navigator Program for 2015. This is our biggest Navigator program of the year with 3 groups beginning their journey at our National Base, in Tharwa, ACT. Thirty five mostly nervous and excited 15-17 year olds arrived here at lunchtime and were greeted by the Outward Bound Australia staff. The program began with an expectations session, where it was explained that there will be many personal and group challenges they will face over the next 12 days. These challenges will not only be the physical ones, but also social, emotional and psychological. It was also explained that there is plenty of competition in an Outward Bound program – not between people but within each individual as they strive to bring their best.

The participants were split into three groups: Red, Orange and Yellow. They met their instructors for the program and their group journey began, spending the afternoon and evening getting to know who they would be sharing the next 12 days with. It was a wet start to program but the participants are being guided by our instructors who are highly experienced in all weather conditions.

A big thankyou to Lions Clubs from Minnamurra, Gerringong, Nowra, Kiama, Pambula-Merimbula, Yass, Queanbeyan and Canberra City for funding participants on this program. Outward Bound has partnered with Australian Lions Clubs for over 50 years to give local youth the opportunity to take a unique journey of challenging, yet fun-filled self-discovery. The very first Outward Bound Australia program included an Australian Lions Club participant – making us natural partners since the very beginning.

Day 2

Wow it has been a start to the course to remember, with 70mm of rain falling around the Tharwa area in the first 24 hrs! The groups were straight into it, luckily they stepped up to the challenge and learnt how to make great shelters for a rain filled first evening. They were awoken very early on Day 2 for a bus ride to Outward Bound Australia’s Victoria base. A good chance for most of them to catch a bit of extra sleep before setting off on their first expedition. Finally the groups were driven out to their starting points of the course. With a warm fire and clearing rain, all groups are beginning their expeditions today.

With Mother Nature stilling giving us her rain and rising rivers levels, the program has again been modified. Our highly experienced operations team have decided white water rafting is no longer an option but a fantastic alternate activity is planned. Another reminder that a Navigator program is a mini life journey – being prepared to change direction if circumstances in your life suddenly change. Stay tuned for more information!

Day 3

Both days two and three saw the three group’s expeditioning from various exciting places. The days were planned by the groups and it was a great day to practice their new navigation skills. Each group felt differently about the day, some felt tired but proud whilst also feeling excited and very happy! Another said they were beginning to feel more comfortable about being in the bush and are having a successful time climbing and enjoying themselves. The last group said that despite the long day it was lots of fun and the energy is the group is great!

It was also a challenging few days for all, but they learn that even though you think you can’t do something sometimes if you give it a go you’ll be successful. To always trust the navigators and stay together when hiking. And most importantly; making sure the direction the group is heading in is correct!

All groups are really looking forward to tomorrow!

Day 4

On the fourth day of their navigator adventure the groups all completed different activities and challenges throughout the day.

One group stretched their comfort zones on the abseil as well as hiking a mountain! All in one day! Another group felt as though they still hadn’t adjusted to life in the bush, when they woke up on the side of a mountain. They spent their day climbing as well as abseiling; everyone had a go and really pushed themselves. A few struggled with the fear, but once conquered were “over the moon” they had completed it! Lastly, group three had a very early morning and completed pack down and morning camp routines all without instructor assistance. They all felt very proud of themselves. They tackled the giant ladder activity in pairs, where every single group made it to the top. The rest of their day was filled with more games and activities.

All groups are feeling really excited about what is yet to come for them. They report that so far, they have learned a lot from their experience and feel as though they are growing as a team. They have really enjoyed the activities especially after a day of hiking! Bring on more challenges!

Day 5

A variety of activities going on for all today! As new leaders stepped up, one group headed for their navigational checkpoints the others did a combination of abseiling and climbing, as well as some night caving! Today they learnt some really key things such as ‘fear is healthy; it’s what keeps us alive.’ They’ve realised today that they’re teamwork skills are really improving, especially at times where team work was essential during the caving activity.

Each lesson they’ve learnt have been through the experiences they’ve gone through! Now that’s unique learning.

Day 6

After being challenged in many different ways thus far on the program, today it was time to be physically challenged. On the hike up Mt McLeod they had plenty of opportunity to practice their navigation. Feeling physically challenged, not only did they complete the hike but also learnt about the history of the mountain as well as the fire tower. The weather is looking positive from here onwards and after a small storm the group feels positive about sunny skies. At the top of the mountain they took time to appreciate the environment and also the big challenge they had just overcome.

The atmosphere at camp was electric and positive. Everyone is hoping tomorrow will be as rewarding as the next!

Day 7

Each group had very different schedules for today. One group completed a solo activity, spending 24 hours in the wilderness alone. For this activity they are given the necessary survival items such as food, water, shelter and a designated section for them to call their temporary home. Without their watches most participants thought the hours flew by, others found it more difficult being alone with no technology, company but one’s own. As well as returning from solo the group also began their expedition. Not the kind that is taken by foot, but taken on the river!

Group two also began their river expedition after completing a morning of service. One of Outward Bound Australia’s key values is ‘service,’ and for the morning the participants adopted this, working extra hard to shift rocks creating a few huge piles! They all felt extremely proud of their effort. Lastly the other group continued their journey on foot up Mt McLeod, now feeling very tired but extremely appreciative of the warm fire and delicious dinner that fills their bowls tonight.

Day 8

So much expeditioning going on! Some groups are still out on their river expedition, enjoying every minute in a new environment, others are expeditioning by foot. After their hard efforts put in all day they managed to get to camp at 4pm, a wonderful time to prepare dinner and camp before the sun sets. The group realised how much of a delight it was and want to strive for this and push throughout the next day. The navigation proved to be quite challenging, realising how features differ on the map to actual size. Everyone is doing so well in the field, and everyone back at base camp is cheering the groups on to push through the final most challenging days of their program!

Day 9 and 10

It was two big days of hiking for days 9 and 10 of program. A lot of preparation was done the morning before the hike to ensure everyone was packed and ready for a full day of hiking. The groups progressed really well, navigating their way to the next campsite for the night. Delicious communal dinners were made both nights as the groups discussed the challenges of the day.

Day 11

Another early morning start and transport back to National Base. It was a great opportunity to mix with members of the other groups and share stories and experiences from the last 10 days. Once back on base, the participants spent the remainder of the day back with their own group undertaking initiatives and activities. To conclude the day, a final debrief occurred. During this debrief it was discussed amongst the groups all the experiences they had had, all the skills they had learnt and the many facets of the program they had almost completed. Dinner was definitely a celebratory feast to remember!

Day 12

The last and final day at Outward Bound Australia! After the celebration dinner last night, the final task before having a hot shower was to clean up the gear used over the past 12 days. The groups put so much effort into cleaning up after themselves and ensuring all gear was in a great condition for the next group to visit Outward Bound Australia. Once this was complete, showers were warmly welcomed and soon all the participants departed out of the gates, waving goodbye to their 12 day adventure. Over the past 12 days, many mountains have been climbed, many strong bonds have been made and for each participant their own experience has been etched into their memory; now a personal touchstone to draw strength from throughout their lives.


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