Its the second week of the program and we started it off with our first day of our community project and with camp preparation. During the Engage term we focus on giving back to the community, this year we are doing this with bike donations and bike safety lessons for newly arrived young people. We picked everyone up from the station and then headed to Collingwood alternative school to pack for camp. We loaded our bags up with sleeping bags and thermals and covered what we needed and what will be happening on camp. After this quick and efficient pack we then headed t to Collingwood English Language School to met the class of newly arrived students. Once there we said our hellos and the young people got straight into presenting their lesson. In groups of 2 they were responsible for running an ice breaker and then conducting an activity around bike knowledge. Each Newstart students showed great leadership in all forms by running the activities and supporting others while they ran theirs. Everyone also worked well to get to know the newly arrived young people by writing them a letter and reading it to them to form a connection. The session ended with everyone feeling comfortable with each other and in high spirits. To finish the day we followed the bike theme by going on a bike ride to federation square and back. The ride started off bumpy with the bike trailer detaching, causing us to regroup and reattach it in the street. Another planned (not planned) chance for the young people to step up and show leadership. After this we got onto the bike track, covered safety and began our ride. Luckily the sun was out and it wasn't windy so we had a quick and enjoyable ride there and back. We finished the day energized and excited for the next few days as it is out first camp!
Thursday, we started our journey up to Marysville, the long drive saw the young people bond through music of their own self-expression and created an opportunity for the young people to get to know one another a little better before our two-day camp adventure. When we arrived at Marysville we all got changed in our ski gear and reunited with the ONS Western group as well as Kelto and Mark whom were going to be our guides for the next two days! Once we were all decked out in our ski gear and had everything we needed for the day we started the journey all together on the Rubicon Bus up to the snow at Lake Mountain. Once we arrived we had some discussions around our character strengths and what we felt individually we would need while skiing, this invited some more discussion around leadership and how we could work as a team even though everyone had different skill levels up at the snow. Kelto led our crew, and started by teaching us the basics of cross country skiing, such as how to stop yourself from sliding backwards, how to glide along up the hills as well as how to power plow and stop yourself, and most importantly for a lot of us how to emergency stop, which in other words meant how to “safety” stack it and give everyone else a good laugh! Throughout all these all the young people demonstrated really good communication skills and really showcased their ability to lead and work together when needed. Kelto gave us the options of how we were to get back down the mountain and the young people were given the task to access everyone’s skill level in the group, everyone’s willingness to go down steep parts of the hill and they had to decide which direction to go down would be the fairest for all members of the group. We were extremely impressed with our young people and the willingness they had to take charge and access all aspects before working together to come to a mutual decision that would benefit everyone. After our long day of cross country skiing we then made our way to the Rubicon Outdoor Education camp where we grabbed to the keys and started our picturesque journey up in the rainforest to our accommodation for the night. Once arrived we had a few hiccups when it came to electricity, but overall the young people took on this challenge and tried their best to work together, unpack the bus, start a fire and get us settled for the night. Later that night we had some activities to get through that talked through character strengths some more, the importance of having a growth mindset, and we discussed what group values were exercised well over the course of the day.
The next day we all woke up, communicated and worked together to get all the morning tasks done efficiently to get back down to Rubicon to start our day. Today we were going white water rafting, so met up with Kelto and Mark again as well as the Western group and went through the gear we needed and the safety concerns that arise while on the river. Once down on the river we set the young people a challenge to watch another person for the day and try and find a character strength we thought they were displayed well and then perhaps another we think they could work on over the course of the rest of the program. We then set off in the river, which proved to be very challenging but also the most I think we could have had. We got taught how to accurately steer our boats, enter and exit rapids and how to sections of the river that were safe to stop and catch our breathes without floating away. We were blessed with blue skies and sunshine, which helped soften how that 9-degree water temperature felt against our skin. As we made our way down the river and the young people were feeling more comfortable in the rafts that’s when the real fun began! We all spent a lot of time tipping each other in, splashing each other, crashing into each other, relaxing and cruising down the river all accompanying by laughter and good vibes. It was such a good experience for everyone and proved to be such a good activity to promote communication, as the rafting required young people to work together to get down the river. At the end of the day you could feel the exhaustion of such a fun filled and packed day start to set in, which was our opportunity to stop and reflect on what each of us did well and what we could have done better, as well our group dynamics and how effectively we all felt we worked over the course of the two days! This was a good chance for the young people to get out of their comfort zones, work together, get to know each other better and work out how they could improve their skills before the next camp in two weeks’ time! The car ride home was a quiet one with a lot of reflection independently done by the young people, which was great to see. Well done to the young people for an awesome camp experience!