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Escape Adventurous Journeys: Empowering Youth through Escape – Learn – Giveback

    Imagine embarking on journeys, immersing yourself in nature, and discovering the true essence of self-reliance and resilience.

    That’s exactly what the Escape Adventurous Journeys program offers by combining exhilarating outdoor adventures with skills development and community service, empowering young people to unleash their potential and make a positive impact.

    Following the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award framework, this initiative allows participants to embark on journeys and connect with nature while nurturing personal growth, self-reliance, and a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

    In 2022, Escape Adventurous Journeys received a $20,000 grant from Rotorua Trust, which aided in enhancing resources, providing comprehensive training, and organising unforgettable outdoor camps.

    Mark Chapman, Program Development Manager at Escape Adventurous Journeys, describes the impact of this funding, “The funding from Rotorua Trust has truly been a catalyst for our success and has played a pivotal role in empowering the next generation of young people.

    It has provided us with the means to elevate and broaden our program, ultimately reaching more young individuals and schools in the Rotorua area. It has empowered us to offer enhanced resources, comprehensive training, and amazing outdoor camps.” 

    Through the implementation of the Escape – Learn – Giveback program Escape Adventurous Journeys has provided assistance to 70 students from three high schools in Rotorua, enabling them to participate and excel in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award.

    Camps include navigation training, team-building challenges, and lessons on environmental sustainability. Mentors and outdoor instructors offer unwavering support throughout their escapades, helping participants set goals, overcome challenges, and celebrate achievements.

    Program organisers describe outcomes for participants as improved physical fitness, increased energy levels, and a greater sense of well-being through engaging in outdoor activities and embracing nature. Moreover, students who previously faced limited social engagements have thrived, developing effective communication skills, teamwork abilities, and self-confidence. A big part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award is ‘voluntary service’, giving back to the community at every level – bronze, silver, or gold. Overall, the camps are described as profoundly impacting students, fostering personal growth, leadership skills, and a strong sense of accomplishment.

    Continuous evaluation and improvement have been essential to the program’s success. Mark describes how gathering feedback, incorporating the latest research, and embracing best practices allow Escape Adventurous Journeys to meet the evolving needs of young people in Rotorua.

    Looking ahead, Escape Adventurous Journeys aspires to expand its reach and impact in the Rotorua community. By establishing partnerships with additional schools and educational institutions, the program aims to provide opportunities to a broader range of students, catering to their needs and interests. Future aspirations revolve around making a lasting and positive difference in the lives of young people in Rotorua.