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MERRI-BEK WEEK 4 TERM 3 2023

Hello everyone!


I’m happy to say the second camp is done! But that means only 3 weeks are left of the program :-(. Oh well, here is our recount of the past week!


On Wednesday the 16th the crew gathered for an early session with Brody, a Street Artist who works alongside Yarra City council. He helps to give street art lessons and opportunities to young people of all backgrounds, and is someone we work closely with here at Operation Newstart. He explained the space and our tools before letting us express what we would like on the walls that surrounded the space. The crew loved the free and creative time, many proudly standing by their works in the photos included. Everyone boasted about their works and kept talking about the experience for the week, even making an Operation Newstart tribute in the process. After this we had a quick lunch break before moving on to our second session for the day. Heading to Kangan Batman we were lucky enough to have a personalised tour of the school and what courses were available within their location. The tour guide was extremely friendly and helped to touch on the importance of all career pathways, as many students are now looking to what are their next steps at school. This was a great opportunity for the young people to see what a campus might look like and what kind of things they could expect in a TAFE pathway. We soon enough finished up for the day and headed home for our camp preparation!


On Thursday the 17th, we all collected as usual back down at Collingwood station. When everyone finally arrived we headed straight off to our 2nd camp, Bike2Beach. We took our group mountain bikes and gear to the You Yangs, a regional park that is greatly protected and preserved by the local government. This space holds many outdoor opportunities, including bike trails, walking paths, orienteering and many more. However as this is a regional park there are no bins, flushing toilets or camping on the land, to help preserve the natural spaces. The crew were ecstatic, hopping on the bikes and getting an initial run on the pump tracks. This is a space made of small mounds to help learn how to properly bike on dirt tracks. This was a great beginning as many of our crew were familiar with bikes but not mountain biking. They tried their luck at the pump tracks, learning how to move the bike without pedaling and utilising gravity and their body's movement in the process. As they warmed up, Auri also took them through a safety lesson and how to properly position themselves on the bikes. After a quick lunch and toilet break, the crew headed off for their ride. Going on a giant loop the crew faced jumps, sharp turns and new exciting environments as they went through the trail, even stopping to retry some jumps. They had an amazing time and when they finally got back it was time to head to our base camp, Bancoora Surf Life Saving Club. This space has been utilised by our Operation Newstart groups for years, and is a great way to haul up without being in the middle of town. Once there we all began to unpack, before discussing our next steps and having a chat about the biking experience. Everyone went round to say what character strength they noticed for themselves and one other person during the day, before moving on to some free time. The crew dominated the pool table and laughed as they snacked before dinner. Once dinner did come around, everyone chipped in, either cooking or cleaning, however, all devouring the food supplied. It was a night filled with laughter and silliness, before it was all time to settle down for bed.


On Friday the 18th it was rainy. In the early hours of the morning the crew slowly stirred and awoke to have some breakfast. When the first step was done we all went our ways to pack our things and steadily discuss our plans for the day. After some back and forth of ideas, they settled on a checkout of the famous Bells beach and another session of riding. Before this however, everyone was tasked with making their rooms clean, ensuring they packed all their gear and making sure to help pack everything into the bus. By the time we headed off to Bells beach, the sun had cleared and we all had a good time checking out the famous surf spot. When done they had a quick ride of the strip and came back wanting more, so we decided for another You Yangs ride. Heading to a more advanced but still manageable zone for mountain biking, those who felt up to it went headfirst into another bike trail, while some of us stayed behind and chatted till they came back. Both groups enjoyed their time, though those who went biking were dirtier than when they had first begun haha. Once back at the bus we headed for Collingwood station, laughing and singing along to a variety of music DJ’d by our one and only placement student Spencer.


The crew had an amazing time and truly showed great skills in trying new things and being open to getting a little dirty in the process. Here's to another great week that has passed!



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