Athletes take the lead on Outward Bound
2 July 2021
In May twelve keen athletes came together as ‘Blake watch’ for the Athlete Leadership Outward Bound course, delivered in partnership with Special Olympics New Zealand.
Outward Bound is one of New Zealand’s leading organisations for showing people their full potential through outdoor challenge and adventure. Over eight days athletes experienced new activities including tramping, sailing, waka ama, kayaking, high ropes and camping, and developed their leadership skills in communication, decision making, adaptability, and relationship building.
Early in the week Blake watch started with a challenging high ropes course. Athletes Josh Bradley and Monique Irvine from Howick-Pakuranga said it was one of their favourite activities, despite the windy weather.
“It was really challenging because it was so windy when we had to climb up there on rope ladders, but it was so much fun to be up in the trees.” Says Monique.
Another highlight of the course was the solo camp, where athletes Grant Mckenzie from Southland and Tamati Matene from Marlborough took on the mission to camp out in native bush one night, with only the essentials.
“We basically had a big tarpaulin connected to trees and we slept on rubber foam mats and a big sleeping bag. It was a perfect night too because it was the night with the blood moon, it was awesome.” Says Tamati who had never done anything like it before.
While it was hard to pick a favourite moment, when asked what the hardest part of the course was the answer was clear, the early mornings! Made especially hard, as Josh Bradley recalls, because there was no coffee.
“We had to do a 3km run in the morning, at 6am! And then a cold dip in the water. But it was fun.” Says Monique who recalled that it got easier as the week progressed.
However, where there were challenges to be overcome there were the instructors, ready to motivate everyone to give it their all.
“The instructors were really cool people and taught us the new skills and showed us what to do with all the activities.” Says Grant.
Course Instructor Katrin Gloeggler, enjoyed being able to see everyone put in the effort to grow their skills and support each other.
“The beautiful part about it is that they all could apply their individual strengths to the course, being physical as well as showing great initiative to support their team to be the best they can be.”
“Blake watch rocked it and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of their experience and to learn about their way of seeing the world.”
Being challenged with new experiences was a daily part of Outward Bound and one of the more difficult activities was when athletes had to construct rafts and sail them down a river.
“I had to push myself because it was really slippery in the mud.” Said Monique who remembered it as a challenging activity, but that everyone worked together to finish building the rafts and make it down the river with help from captain Grant McKenzie.
“It was important for everyone to be working as a unit and help everyone out so I stepped up to be the captain on the raft and tell people to turn left and right, and make sure we went down the stream okay.” Remembers Grant.
Outward Bound Course Manager Kelly Hamilton says the course was a wonderful opportunity to see athletes build their skills and have a great adventure.
“It was a pleasure having the Special Olympics Athletes at Anakiwa and on an Outward Bound course. It was great to work with Asti from Special Olympics and Caroline from Outward Bound before the course, in order to meet the needs of the group. All the students were enthusiastic and motivated to be here, and the instructors were able to offer them some amazing adventures including waka ama, sailing and raft building. The whole school was lifted by the energy the students brought to morning assemblies.”
At the end of the course it was clear that it was an unforgettable experience for all, through the challenges, highlights, new friends and activities it left a big impact on every athlete. On his personal journey Grant only had this to say.
“Thank you, Outward Bound and Special Olympics, for awesome opportunity. I enjoyed every challenge every step was worth it even the early mornings and cold showers. The journey starts now, there’s more in you than you know.”