Recently I spent eight days walking in the Flinders Ranges as a field volunteer with Operation Flinders.
This amazing organisation provides a new pathway for disengaged youth via its flagship program, which is an eight-day trek on Yankaninna Station.
While the main purpose is getting the teams from the start to the finish safely, and teaching them life skills along the way, there is also some time for observation and self-reflection.
It's interesting to watch the participant reactions to certain situations that arise during the trek. Some have epiphany moments and make a significant shift in their attitude.
Others tend to make incremental changes and slip back into old habits: two steps forward, one step back as it were; for these participants, the eight days must seem like a rollercoaster ride.
I normally spend a lot of my time at the back of the group, making sure no one is left behind. In some ways the perspective I gain from this viewpoint is quite enlightening. I find quiet observation insightful.
From my vantage point there were some great success stories that I saw unfolding before my eyes. The vast majority of participants find the trekking difficult for the first few days. It's quite a shock to be deposited in the outback in complete isolation, and put a backpack on and start walking.
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There is no phone service, and no other creature comforts of home. Some participants struggle for the entire trip, others make a real psychological shift over this time. I don't know whether the attitudinal adjustment is conscious or subconscious - I suspect the former - but however it happens, it's quite a delight to witness.
The common trait I see in these participants is a steely determination to get through each day, and gradually improve as they go. There are a multitude of obstacles that are normally thrown at them over the journey, a common one is blisters.
This year I saw a young man, who had quite bad blisters, just push-on as best he could through the discomfort and pain and come out the other side knowing he had got through his self-imposed limitations. It wasn't all smooth sailing for this young man, but he got there in the end. Inspirational!
There are lots of lessons to be learnt from watching these young people grow and develop for the entirety of the trip. These principles are relevant to anyone, in any situation.
I admire the strength of character that some of the OF participants display. Some of them are the most determined individuals I have ever met. This applies to people I have met in agriculture as well. I have observed and quietly admired many people that have beaten the odds to achieve their goals.
The people I know from farming, and those OF participants, probably don't realise it, but in some ways they become role models for others.
There are always other people watching your journey. Make the most of it.
- Details: bagshawagriconsulting.com.au
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