Avondale College students Kohin Fulop, left, and Nathan Powell, right, pull a rope during training camp.
As the country battled dangerous conditions with former Cyclone Dovi last weekend, 16 high school students faced their own personal battles in the elements.
Students from Rosehill and Avondale colleges endured high winds and torrential rain during a two-day training exercise at Tongariro National Park.
They faced a range of challenges, including abseiling, mountain biking and canoeing, as well as navigation and problem-solving tasks as a team.
Schools were taking part in a one-to-one weekend boot camp with the Edmund Hillary Trust, funded by Round the Bays. The charity was the first recipient of a new $10,000 Round the Bays youth sports fund, launched to mark the fun run’s 50th anniversary.
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“The potential for personal development and teamwork is enormous through these experiences,” says Darren Ashmore, Events Manager at Hillary Outdoors.
“There is something very special about adventure racing with a team in wild outdoor locations, and the Hillary Challenge takes our regular outdoor education programs and adds a unique layer of intensity and pressure difficult to imitate in other school or educational environments.”
Rosehill College sent eight Year 12 students who show leadership potential, and outdoor education teacher James Fraser acknowledged the challenges were “full”.
“Hillary Outdoors is very safe, but they’re still operating and they certainly didn’t make a big deal out of the cyclone,” he says.
Team sports play a vital role in bringing students and whānau of different ethnicities and different socio-economic backgrounds together at the decile 5 school, he says, enabling students to have a strong sense of belonging. .
“Being able to go there was really huge. We’re a big school, so every opportunity you have to put these kids on is gold – especially with Covid we’ve had so many cancellations. They failed to do that stuff.
Meg Goldthorpe, of Avondale College, said that without the Round the Bays Youth Sports Fund, students at the Decile 4 school would not have been able to participate.
“We wouldn’t have had the experience, we can’t afford to take them out,” she says. “Avondale College is a multicultural and diverse community, team sports bring us all together as equals. But they had a lot of canceled trips on them, so it was a first opportunity to be a team in a very long time.
“Some people weren’t so sure about jumping on the boats, and they ended up going up – despite falling out of the canoe!”
Next up is the North Island Hillary Challenge, to be held near Rotorua in May, where around 30 schools from across the North Island compete for four qualifying places in the National Hillary Challenge finals in October.
However, the two teams face off again before then, with Round the Bays Virtual. With the Fun Race canceled due to Covid restrictions, the online version allows participants to participate anywhere and anytime for one week from March 6.
Rosehill and Avondale will likely use their school ground to complete the 8.4km course and will be able to follow each other’s times – and they will be able to compare their achievements with international sporting identities including Dame Valerie Adams and the Warriors star Rueben Wiki – through the Round the Bays Virtual app.
Round The Bays is managed by Stuff Events, a subsidiary of Thing.