A hike across stunning Tasmanian landscape has challenged and empowered a group of secondary students to take control of their future.
Ararat College and Wonthaggi Secondary College students participated in the four-day camp on Maria Island in Tasmania.
Anglicare Victoria’s Hike to Higher Education program provides students considered at risk of not completing their high school education or who come from disadvantaged circumstances with mentors in the form of university students.
Federation University regional engagement officer and masters student Josh Lloyd said their role was to share their personal experiences in conversations that evolved naturally rather than be forced upon the students.
“Whether it is walking along the coast or sitting down to have your morning tea, the kids will naturally gravitate towards you,” Mr Lloyd said.
“It is important that these kids hear that (the mentors) might have struggled through year 12 or didn’t get that ATAR they wanted or took a gap year, and that there are other means of getting to where you want to go.”
The students were given team building exercises and pushed to their limits on two hikes – one about 25km long, and the second a climb that was about 15km.
The mentors used the mountain peak as a metaphor for the challenges that lay ahead, from the difficulties of years 11 and 12 to taking on university or TAFE.
“We climb to the top of Bishop and Clerk and it just blows their mind every time we go up there,” Mr Lloyd said.
“They can look back and see how far they have come.
“We tell them as you go through life, and especially school, it is going to be challenging but at the end of the day you just have to put one foot in front of the other and you will make it to the top.”
The camp left the students feeling empowered and excited about what the future had in store for them.
It also provided opportunity for self discovery and the formation of long lasting friendships between the students from the two schools.
“They are going to look back at those photos and remember those moments, that real success and achievement they felt,” Mr Lloyd said.
Federation University has been involved in the program for the past five years.
This is the first year the program has been open to schools outside the Wimmera and Grampians regions as it continues to expand.