Great Barrier Leadership Camp 2019

It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts.

The destination was Great Barrier Island; the journey was one of leadership, self-belief, self-worth, and confidence. 10 boys from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (SEHC) in Otara were selected by staff for a leadership programme, run by ATWC’s Social Workers in Schools (SWiS). The boys were all between the ages of 14-16 and identified by their schools as being in need of more support to reach their potential. They were recognised as being middle of the road students who often missed out on the focus of their teachers. SWiS were able to step in and address this need.

The camp at Orama Oasis on Great Barrier Island was the culmination of 2 terms of weekly leadership sessions run at SEHC by a group of SWiS. The jam-packed 6 days on the island was geared towards bringing the boys out of their shells, encouraging them to be confident in themselves, and building trusting and respectful relationships with each other in a completely new environment. One of the boys, Tevita Fifita shared his thoughts with us about the programme …

 “It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts”.  This very quote is the entirety of this amazing voyage, including all who had a part in this life changing experience.  Meeting with the year 10 and 11 students  and staff of ATWC every Wednesday chipped the ice and drew us out of our safe zone to mingle and make brotherly bonds.  Our Wednesday workshops embraced our strengths and aided our weaknesses when focusing on our leadership, relationship, teamwork, social, and gratitude skills.  Overtime, we all had also developed confidence and comfort within our leadership group.

The climax of this leadership programme was not like any other expedition.  We sailed four and a half hours into the sea, to a remote rural island to utilise 6 days to present, enhance, and learn more about our leadership skills and ourselves.  Every day we faced new challenges and made many great memories with our ATWC family, staff of Orama Oasis, and even other campers on the campus.  Using our mental and physical abilities to complete tasks either by ourselves, in pairs, or in the whole group was a great and unique experience for all of us.

Being selected by teachers and accepted by ATWC staff into the leadership programme was a huge privilege, but it was also nerve racking; knowing people could see potential in me, knowing that they want to invest their time, money, and energy knowing that I can be a future leader.  Thinking back, I have found this trip to be an eye opener for me and all who attended and participated at the school workshops and the camp.  Travelling away from the main island of New Zealand also helped enhance the experience; to be separated from the city life and focus on building our “Inner Leader”.

I want to thank all staff and students who had a part and participated in this life changing experience, and making me feel comfortable to nurture my leadership skills and abilities.  Thank you for utilising your time, energy, and effort into everything you as staff and we as students had to offer to make what I see as an extremely successful turnout. Thank you ATWC for giving such an extraordinary opportunity to young adults like the Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate students, as we are truly grateful. I believe that this programme will benefit future students of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. This truly was a trip of a life-time.”

Peter Mata, the Social Worker who is based in SEHC, was one of the main facilitators of the programme and helped lead the camp on Great Barrier. Peter and the other members of staff were incredibly inspirational for the boys and led by example in all the activities, encouraging them to participate and overcome their fears, showing the boys that anything is possible:

“It was a week of firsts for many of the boys, first time sailing, first time doing high ropes, kayaking at the beach. The sailing was definitely a highlight, and just the opportunities to do new things […] these opportunities provide so much value to the organisation and to the schools that we work with, it would be great if other students could get the same experiences.”