Rainforest Navigator June 2017 | Youth Development Program
Welcome to the Blog for our Rainforest Navigator program. Follow along as these young adults undertake a challenging and inspiring journey through the Australian bush. Here you will find updates from the program including a written account of each day’s events as well as photos. You can expect the written portion to be quite up-to-date, photos may take a day or two as they are a little harder to get out of the bush! Please join in and leave your comments – we’d love to hear from you! Stay tuned for the first post!
A short post to start to answer the most important question. Have they arrived? Yes, everyone has arrived safe and sound. We wish them a fun adventurous journey. Today has been a busy start with getting to know their instructors Juanita and Forrest and their team mates, organizing their gear and settling in. Please stay tuned for more news shortly! Feel free to post comments!!
After hiking out to their first campsite, the Pinnacle, the team has continued onto their first big challenge this morning called the Giant Ladder. Reaching up to the sky the rungs get further apart as the young people climb in pairs attached to the safety lines. They will work together to get as high as possible. Those who make it to the top have to trust themselves as they push off the bottom rung holding onto their partner to grab the final rung.
They will then pick up their mountain bikes for some practice runs before they start their mountain bike leg. Stay tuned for photos and stories from the group.
The team have spent two days mountain biking which the group really enjoyed and allowed them to develop some good mountain biking skills. Some even showed off with some wet riding across creek crossings! It was a great way to travel through the rainforest and they didn’t have to carry the backpacks!
The instructors have been working on developing these great young people into a brilliant team. A communication session allowed the participants to work on other ways of conveying information as well as creating awareness of body language, tones and the importance of listening. This is also helping them to come up with better plans and more effective ways to work together particularly improving their efficiency in camp and whilst mountain biking. Their instructors have reported that they are becoming like a big family and bonding well and creating good friendships. The skills of working well together will put them in good stead for the rest of the program as well as when they get back home.
After finishing their bike leg they’ve once again put the backpacks on their backs and set off this time on foot. At a slower pace of walking they were able to find out more about the local flora and fauna. A local bush-tucker expert met the team at Mebbin recreation area and taught them about the flora in the area whilst on a nature walk. Participants had the opportunity to try a range of fruits and veggies and how to identify them when out walking. They learnt about the local ecosystem and specific plants and animals of the beautiful Northern Rivers rain forest area.
Hiking allows the team members to practice their navigation skills. They have learnt the basics of using the maps and compasses as well as practicing their navigation so that they can take on more responsibility and independence with the program. They will continue to practice their skills and will be expected to take full ownership of their navigation for the final expedition challenge.
One of their biggest challenges so far was to completely disengage THE BOX! (insert background sounds of oohing and aahing). THE BOX (oooh/aaah) is a high stakes puzzle that tests even the most brilliant of BOX puzzle solvers.
The team are heading to the Big Ben today. No it is not a giant nor a big clock but a tree. A hoop pine to be exact! The team will harness up and together climb the tree, spiraling higher and higher connected together like a big worm. The lead person connects to the tree with two crab claws and is connected by safety roped to the person behind who again is connected to them by rope and so on. Hopefully it is not too windy at the top!!
Update: The team completed the climb successfully. Tied together as they ascended the group found it wasn’t always so easy to navigate the tight quarters of a tree when there are 8 other people up there with you. However, through careful problem solving and keeping conscious of those beside them they returned to the ground triumphantly. And it wasn’t too windy!
Today the team also were involved in a service activity. Service at Outward Bound is a key value in being an integral community member and these wonderful young people were involved in the regeneration of the Tweed River. The simple service of planting a tree will hopefully have a long lasting effect in reducing erosion and returning the Tweed River to it’s previous beauty. Many in the group mentioned how calming it was to tend the earth. Perhaps some future gardening enthusiasts lie within our midst.
Day 6 and 7
The team climbed Wollumbin (also known as Mt Warning) and then built up their canoe skills as they headed across to their solo spot. Solo is a wonderful chance to celebrate their successes so far this program and also to set themselves some goals. Stay tuned for more reports from the team and thanks for following along.
Update: It has been revealed that the evening meal of Day 5 was roast lamb with vegetables: a hearty way of celebrating the half-way point of the journey. Climbing Wollumbin required a 2am wake-up call, but the extra efforts of entering the cold dark morning and taking on the steep uphill climb provide the reward of witnessing an amazing sunrise. Coming out of the solo experience, the participants have shared with each other their stories, and aspirations for the future.
Day 8 and 9
After solo the team has jumped back into their canoes and paddled over to the Abseil. They will be beginning their final expedition over Mt Jerusalem today. Still waiting on detailed reports from the team members and photos to come back from the field. Thanks for your patience.
Update: The final canoe journey before the hiking expedition saw another early rise. This has seen the participants begin their morning canoe through a mystical fog. These are surely going to be memories that will stay with our participants for years to come.
Day 8 Update
We have received the photos back from the field! Abseiling is the fine art of walking backwards, vertically down a cliff-face. After learning about comfort zones and how to safely push beyond perceived limits, each participant had the opportunity to stretch themselves with this challenging activity.
After the abseil, the team began their final hike over mt. Jerusalem, continuing into Nightcap National Park. They have turned into a solid team, having learnt how to live and work together, resolves disputes, navigate, and lead.
Throughout Days 9-11 the participants have been completing their final journey, including the stunning Minyon Falls before making their way all the way back to our Base. Their final activity on Day 11 was the Pamper Pole, a high ropes activity to give them one last chance to push their limits by literally jumping out of their comfort zone!
Day 12 is the final day of this program. A short slide show of the photos was shown to everyone, and concluded with the closing Blue Peter ceremony. Congratulations to all our participants, and a giant thank-you to the work of our Group Instructors. Make sure you ask your young person all about their experiences: there will be many stories to tell!