Sport Bay of Plenty

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ActiveVoice: Weather the storm and life's challenges

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


It’s 6am and I’m on a boat heading for Mayor Island, joined by 18 youth and several Sport Bay of Plenty staff members as part of our Youth Engagement Programme’s Leadership Camp.

The camp puts our youths to the test, both physically and mentally, in a foreign and unforgiving environment, but sees incredible changes in our participants by the end of the trip.

As we set off, Mother Nature blesses us with dolphin sightings and what is usually a three-hour journey to the island takes nearly five hours as we follow the marine life across the ocean – although keeping up is hard to do!

Arriving at the island, we spend nearly two hours unloading the boat’s contents onto kayaks and an inflatable boat, where we are entrusted to keep everyone’s luggage dry. Then it is onto the roof of the boat where our youths encounter their first challenge: a leap of faith into the water.

For some, this initial challenge is the first of many they will face during the next four to five days. This camp is about putting these kinds of opportunities in front of our youth and it is their choice to accept or not. The challenges test the group dynamics, and from this we see leaders emerge and show what leadership qualities they have.

As the day comes to an end, dinner is prepared and the youths settle into their allocated rooms – a chance to bond with the strangers they have met briefly on the journey over. This is the first time we have had representatives from the Eastern Bay of Plenty attend the Mayor Island Leadership Camp, which brings a new dynamic to the group and ensures plenty of fun.

Our second day begins with a fitness session at 6.30am, then a quick dip in the ocean to ensure they are awake. As we tuck into breakfast, the sun slowly rises above the horizon and reveals the beauty of the Eastern Bay; the gentle noise of the ocean against the sand in the background.

But we sense the weather is going to turn and in the days ahead of us we would see the full fury of Mother Nature as wild weather hits the island – a stark contrast to our first day at sea.

Out of their comfort zone, away from the everyday, this camp gives these youths a chance to grow and develop, to confront their fears head-on and learn new skills. And like Mother Nature, positive change can come at any time and, when it happens, it’s amazing to witness.

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x3 May 2016