Its week two on the program and this week is all about our hike camp!
We started the week at Collingwood Alternative School which is the office location of Operation Newstart Northern. We picked up the students from Collingwood station and got stuck into our character strength workshop. Character strengths are a set of 24 skills and abilities that all people naturally possess. We identify our character strengths through an online test and use them to our advantage by skifully applying them into our lives. Throughout the program we also work to identify these strengths in others to then be able to take this back into school and life. After this we got stuck into our camp pack. During this pack we stuffed our tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, food bags, sleeping liner and head torches into our hike bags. We then broke for lunch, played some soccer and went back into the classroom to work on our resilience workshop. This was a quick workshop as we were recapping what we had done on the hike camp. The young people all worked extremely hard on this day to be organised, focused and to contribute to discussions. It was a big day mentally and we all left having learnt something new.
Thursday was an exciting day as it was our first camp day! We picked up the students from Collingwood Station and drove back to Collingwood Alternative School (CAS) to finishing packing our bags and the bus. After we had organised our stuff and packed the bus we put on our playlist and drove the two hours to the Cathedral Rangers State park. We are extremely lucky here in Victoria to have such close access to the beautiful campsites that we do. We drove into the park, geared up in our wet weather gear and packs and started walking. The walk was enjoyable and allowed us to appreciate and take in the natural environment. The young people took turns in being leaders and before we knew it we had walked the 8k to our camp site. Once at the campsite we had to quickly put up our tents and shelter and get started on cooking dinner. During this camp we all had to be extremely organised as we were expecting lots of rain and cold temperatures. This meant that the young people had to put up their tent properly, keep track of all their gear and work efficiently before the rain was due to fall. Everyone did this incredibly and the heavens must have noticed as we didn’t get any rain until we were in our tents and sleeping. Before this we cooked dinner, cleaned up and debriefed as a group. We went to bed feeling a little tired but good about the day.
Friday we woke up to a little drizzle with patches of sun. Everyone woke up without any issues and got straight into packing down their tent and packing up the campsite. We all moved efficiently and managed to have breakfast and pack up in record time. Due to the wild weather predictions we had to change up our hike on this second day. Instead of doing our uphill hike to Neds Peak we drove 20 minutes down the road to Stevensons waterfall and did the small hike there. It was warming to see how enthusiastic everyone was to be participating in this activity and how much appreciation we all showed for the beautiful of the area and the waterfall. We took some time to enjoy the waterfall, without any rain, and then drove home to unpack our wet gear. Once we were back at CAS we had lunch, unpacked all our gear and quickly debriefed the camp before heading home. Everyone worked extremely well on this first camp and should be proud of what they achieved.