Outward Bound Australia is very excited to welcome you to our Young Explorer Program – a unique Youth Expedition for participants aged between 12 and 14 years. On Program we have children from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and even Tassie – follow along as these courageous teenagers undertake a challenging and inspiring journey alongside the Northern Rivers and heritage listed rainforest.
Five whole days without the internet, social media (and parents) these participants will undertake a journey which involves canoeing, mountain biking, high ropes, bush cooking, navigation and hiking through the best of the Australian bush.
Lucky for them they will be accompanied by two of our most inspiring Instructors, Kevin and Jennie – both passionate and highly skilled outdoor adventurers.
Arrival – Monday 15th
Butterflies and pre-course jitters filled the bellies of participants, parents and instructors alike this morning as 14 Young Explorers kicked off their journey at our Northern Rivers base-camp. Kevin met the on base arrivals and some intense games of banana-grams were had while Jennie collected the participants from the coast.
Once everyone had arrived Kevin lead an inspiring Blue Peter Ceremony, a tradition taken from our long heritage and ties with the naval world. Ships would fly the Blue Peter to warn others in the harbour that they were “Outward Bound” and leaving the safety of the harbour for the unfamiliar. Kevin’s session challenged the crews ideas on perception and came with a call to action to perceive the program with an open mind and generate a whole lot of fun.
Once the ceremony finished last goodbyes were had over morning tea and the participants began to build the new relationships they will need to get through the next week. The afternoon was spent learning how to pack a hiking pack, how to prepare lunch and playing an almost endless repertoire of games from Kevin and Jennies handbooks. Once packed and final checks done the group headed “Outward Bound” to find their first campsite tonight on the shores of Clarrie Hall Dam.
For the parents who witnessed the Blue Peter please share the experience with others and let us know what you thought below!
Monday – Cont.
The Young Explorers enjoyed their first night out as a group. The group split into smaller teams to accomplish the big job of camping out for the night. Some crew got into setting up the shelters whilst others began to prep dinner. Dinner is a big shared experience with everyone doing there bit to make it happen, cooking is done with a wok over an open fire. Participants were reminded that sand is not a spice and to try and keep just the dinner in the wok.
The first misty morning is always a little crazy, these guys took the challenge on and were packed up on time, breakfast had and ready to greet the challenges of the day.
Today the group began there canoe expedition, over the next 2 days the group will navigate there way across Clarrie Hall Dam. A beautiful glassy body of water, covered in lilly pads, birdlife and surrounded by towering forest. The group enjoyed stunning views of Wollumbin/Mt Warning looming above the dam. The group loved any excuse or game which involved getting wet and cooling off along the journey.
For the afternoon the group enjoyed their Abseil activity. The group had been eagerly awaiting this activity and again the challenge was met head on. The group pushed their comfort zones and helped eachother overcome fears to all have a go and get over the edge.
Once the group had had their thrills they spent the night camped by there canoes at the lakeside. Rennie had a great laugh with Conner round the fire, telling each other jokes and sharing stories with the rest of the group.
Instructor Spotlight – Kevin
Kevin has been with Outward Bound since June of 2014. Kevin came from OB USA and has led courses over mountains, on rivers and coastal waters, and in the bush. He has experience with climbing, caving, canoeing, rafting, abseiling, kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking. With more than 300 days in the field with over 750 students served on 40 multi-day expeditions. Kevin says he is “in this job because of the impact I see on the lives and trajectories of the young adults I serve.”
Another early rise for the crew as they packed up their lakeside camp and got back on the water to continue their canoe trip. This trip has got to be one of the most beautiful places on this circuit, the dam looks frozen in time this early in the morning as the glassy surface reflects all the colours of the sunrise.
The birds come to life as this motley crew of teenagers try their best to silently paddle and not disturb the scene (as best they can when you still haven’t quite worked out the ratio of your new found gangly growth spurt arms combined with having only been canoeing for one day and still haven’t quite mastered turning left).
Regardless, the crew nail it and navigate themselves perfectly to their exit point below Mt warning, no time to rest though as the afternoon brings more challenge and a lot more fun.
The afternoon is set aside for the Giant Ladder, a high ropes element which requires trust, teamwork and a whole lot of courage. The group belay each other up the climb, meaning everyone is responsible for their new friends. In pairs they must use each other to reach the top. The runs get further and further apart making it near impossible for people to climb solo. You need the leg up or hand to hold or weird upside down koala grab of a new found mate to get you to the top. After everyone had completed the task and made it to the top, Connor and Fraser took my above statement as a challenge and each had a go at doing it themselves. With a bit of tenacity and hard work they were able to get up there.
For the evening the group was treated to marshmallow’s and enjoyed again their time around the fire deepening the bonds forged on the Ladder.
Today the group hiked there way back to base camp. Once their they put their working gloves on for some service. Service is an integral part of any Outward Bound Course, our founder Kurt Hahn saw 6 declines in modern youth (modern youth being the children on the 1940’s don’t think he’d be all too impressed by today’s modern youth). These declines included
- Decline of fitness due to modern methods of locomotion (hate to see his opinion on uber)
- Decline in skill and care due to the weakened condition of craftsmanship (what do we do if our made in china product breaks? throw it out buy a new one)
- Decline of initiative and enterprise due to widespread spectatotorits (facebook anyone?)
- Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life (5 million Australians are affected by stress)
- Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers (Australian’s spend 8 times more hours per day looking at screens than with loved ones)
Overarching all of these Kurt Hahn saw the largest problem to be
- Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted
To address this Kurt implemented Service into the lives of young people, he believed through service, through an act done for no personal gain, that young people can gain a sense of community and above all grow genuine compassion. He saw this is the fundamental difference at the time between himself and programs like the Hitler Youth.
Service has become a cornerstone of courses and this week the crew built a rock bridge over the river to help future groups access the other side, they also removed flood debree from the aftermath of cyclone Debbie in March last year.
The afternoon was spent mountain biking, they made there way through on our base bike maze and were super competent in completing a circuit around base whch includes river crossings, boulder gardens, downhill riding and lots of obstacles to test there newly developed skills on.
Instructor Spotlight – Jennie
Jennie has been with Outward Bound for a year and a half. Jennie had her first Outward Bound Experience … she hated the first 6 days and on the 7th day it was her Birthday and her fellow participants sung her happy birthday in the voice of different Simpsons characters. This was a pivotal moment for Jennie she re-evaluated her opinions on “cool-kids” and “school cliques” etc and on completion of the course hugged her instructor and told them “I want to be an Outward Bound Instructor. After completing year 12 she spent 3 years in Canada as a summer camp instructor and then returned to Australia to complete her Outward Bound training. The reason she does what she does is for “the students that on day 1 say why in the world would you do this job, but by the final day they are changed people and have a new appreciation of their own abilitys!”.
Final Day – Friday the 19th
This morning the team were treated to hot chocolate and surprise pancakes a welcome change to the muesli and weetbix had throughout the week! After breakfast it was time to begin deissung the gear for the week, drying tents, packing away group gear.
After the hard work was done the group started their crate stack challenge. The team “donkey belays” one of the members as they stack crates on top of each other, balancing precariously as they climb. The team must trust each other, communicate well and work together to get the tower as high as possible. Emma got the highest with 13 crates tall and Imy was crowned a crate tossing expert.
For lunch celebratory burritos were had and enjoyed by all. After lunch the group were challenged to a frozen t-shirt really, two teams must race to get a solid ball of frozen t-shirt pulled apart and worn by each member of the team. The teams tried smashing, stomping, throwing, ripping apart and putting it in the river.
Finally it came time to say goodbye, the final blue peter ceremony was had, certificates handed out and hands shaken. New friendships forged over the past week, were evident as the group had to be pulled apart to get on busses and rejoin family. Instagrams were exchanged (apparently thats how the kids are keeping in touch these days) final hugs, thank you’s and goodbyes and that was it – another group “Outward Bound” back into the real world hopefully a little better off for it!
Self Awareness and & Self Confidence, Spirit of Initiative & Adventure, Have fun in the Outdoors!!