Course a step out of comfort zone

Graduating. . . Alive course members (from left) William Watkinson, Brayden Walker, Ben Bastiaansen-Gutsell (all of Mataura), Caleb Wheatley of Gore and Daniel Frew of Mataura celebrate the end of the phase two of the course and look forward to six more weeks working with a tutor to help them find work. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Five young men have celebrated completing a challenging trip into Fiordland that took them out of their comfort zone.

William Watkinson, Brayden Walker, Ben Bastiaansen-Gutsell and Daniel Frew, all of Mataura, and Caleb Wheatley of Gore are taking part in the Alive course, which is a partnership between Adventure Southland and the Ministry of Social Development.

Course co-ordinator Rachel Crago said the course was designed to help young people find work or decide to study for a career.

The course is held three times a year and the group taking part in the Gore-based course has just completed a nine-day trip to Fiordland.

People apply to take part in the course.

After the initial three-day introduction, the group stayed at Borland Lodge and took part in activities including canoeing, rock climbing and a four-day tramp.

After phase two, course members attended a graduation earlier this month.

‘‘Although graduations normally happen at the end of programmes, the growth and changes that occur to every single person during those nine days in Borland isphenomenal and we want to capture and celebrate all they have achieved so far.’’

Holding the graduation after phase two also meant everyone was there.

‘‘As the programme goes on and people gain employment it becomes harder to get everyone in one place again to celebrate them, ’’ Ms Crago said.

Group members are now being mentored for six weeks.

‘‘It’s about reaching goals they have set for themselves.’’

Gaining their driver’s licence is one example of a goal a group member might set.

Mr Watkinson and Mr Walker found the course empowering.

‘‘I went on it thinking I wouldn’t interact with anybody but when I got there I realised everyone was in the same boat as me trying to find their own way in life and trying to find out what they want to do, and that gave me a lot of confidence,’’ Mr Watkinson said.

‘‘I wouldn’t have traded it for anything,’’ Mr Walker said.

‘‘I feel like I came out somehow a better person than I went in.’’