The Kokoda Challenge Youth Programs provide local teenagers the opportunity to learn and grow on so many levels. It also provides exposure, builds resilience and creates a sense of belonging.
Each year and each group are different in themselves, different walks of life, different leaders, different kids.
Last week we mentioned the reoccurring theme of commitment, this week it's mateship.
On Saturday 29 June, the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads branches of the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program set out on a wet and muddy track to do their night walk training session.
With showers on and off through the duration of their walk, it was always going to be tough - especially with putting raincoats on, taking them off scenarios.
Gold Coast Kokoda Kid Kristina Nair said it was one of the hardest things she has done so far.
"With the help of the team, and our mateship, we got through it,"
"It was challenging to not just walk really fast to finish the distance, but instead stay with the team and help everyone through it," she said.
Gabby Vandenbergh, Tweed Kokoda Kid believes they walked mostly pretty good as a team.
"When you're struggling, there is always someone there to pick you up, talk to you, or simply go at your pace and walk by your side," she said.
Both teams experienced their own sets of challenges, with body pains and battling through fatigue and negative thoughts.
Tweed Leader, Ben Rankin said the biggest challenge was getting out of your own personal negative headspace.
Gabby echoed a similar sentiment, describing that everyone goes through some type of a low because you are dealing with the fact that you are walking when people are usually sleeping.
Gold Coast Kokoda Kid, Lily Crispin admired the team spirit displayed on the evening.
"We walked as a team, and made sure we finished together as well," she said.
Gold Coast Leader, Stephen Cooke believes the kids are stronger for the experience of the night walk and it now puts them on track for the 96kms on 20 July.
"The rain and fog made it a technically difficult walk, but the kids just stuck in when they needed to and supported each other when there were tears," he said.
Kristina said coming into the 96kms she is a little scared because she knows it is going to be painful and hard, but believes mateship will pull them to the finish line.
"I know with the help of our leaders and fellow Kokoda Kids we can do this 96 and cross the finish line as a team," she said.
Gabby is 'as keen as a kidney bean'!
"It's going to be sooo much fun,"
"People will go through their highs and their lows, but all in all we're in this together," she said.
So make sure you say hello to the Kokoda Kids if you pass them during the Challenge.
And their Support Crew?
Three guiding parting messages from the Gold Coast KCYP Support Crew:
- When you get to the support crew station, relax, your support crew have your back!
- Use the toilet before you sit down
- Turn your headlight to red coming in, they are pretty blinding to the Support Crews otherwise!