Students at Barker College NSW have completed three imposing challenges set by the Duke of Ed Award Leader, Graeme Dawes, for their Adventurous Journey. From canyoning to abseiling to hiking, each Participant conquered the challenges presented and gained incredible experiences which would go towards their completion of The Silver Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.
Award Leader Graeme Dawes says “The reason we go for experiences such as these is that the level of commitment reflects the true journey. The most worthwhile and memorable experiences are often the most challenging.”
Prior to the first challenge, the Barker College students undertook training and team building exercises to create a sense of comradery with their peers. Soon after, with new-found friendships and skills, they took on the journey of canyoning. Travelling in these landscapes proved exciting though tiring. Silver Participant Sally says “canyoning was freezing but so much fun!” Eloise also agreed, exclaiming “the last day of canyoning was really good. It was all jumping through waterfalls and swimming in pools.” The next challenge however wouldn’t be as easy for the confident students.
We Felt a Strong Connection
Circumstances went up a notch for challenge number two. These brave Award Participant’s abseiled 240 metres to reach the start of their hike to Mt Solitary in The Blue Mountains. The abseil took the team approximately six hours to complete – the six pitches separated by large ledges with amazing views.
At the beginning of the journey, nervous energy gripped the group. “We were at the top and feeling so petrified...I hate heights,” said Sally. Mike, aged 17 says “we had lots of groups going down together and each one was a team. Each team had to safely go down one tier before beginning the next one. We felt a strong connection to see groups above and below.”
After the initial fear, the Participants enjoyed themselves and reaped the rewards. Sally reflected on the experience; “it was awesome coming down to the bottom to everybody’s support, encouragement and trust. I’m not afraid anymore and would love to do it again.”
The third Adventurous Journey saw Participants going to Wild Dog Mountain in the Megalong Valley, NSW. They were split into four groups and planned to commence the journey from two different locations, crossing over in the middle and each completing individual hike lines.
‘We’ve Really Grown Together’
It was during the course of this Adventurous Journey where challenges arose with the difficult terrain. “Everybody helped each other progress but then it began to get dark. We should have reached the camp by then” recalls Mike.
It was then that the Participants and their Award Leaders had to make the tough decision to re-organise the route and find an alternative. “We have a very genuine approach to The Duke of Ed. It’s all about designing a challenging journey and providing the safety net for our young people… When things don’t go to plan, there is always an opportunity to learn.” This was apparent at the last hurdle. Yet with teamwork and determination, the group managed to overcome it.
For Mike this challenge was something special. “We struggled and had to make a decision. That’s where spontaneous team work happened. People offered to help, plan and pitch in. We’ve really grown together.”
As this group of Participants move on to complete their Gold Award, the inspiration from their Award Leader is evident. “He’s done these experiences, he’s been on so many trips,” said Eloise. Mike agrees, “He is realistic, genuinely cares and knows the activities.”