PJ Iva, a Year 13 student at Haeata, has just returned from three weeks at Outward Bound, alongside 13 other ‘watchmates’, all from different parts of the country and all with their own individual backgrounds. “Everyone was different, they all had inspiring stories,” says PJ, noting that the people were what made the experience so special.
PJ was awarded a scholarship to attend the 21-day course at the Outward Bound centre in Anakiwa, in Queen Charlotte Sound at the top of the South Island. The “Mind Body Soul” course is designed to help young people become fitter and stronger, and further develop their social skills and confidence.
The outdoor experience was a highlight for PJ: “We did a lot of activities, like kayaking, tramping, rock climbing, high ropes and sailing, all of them were new for me.”
Rock climbing while blindfolded gave PJ the opportunity to trust himself and trust others. “I was shaking and my arms were giving up, but once you get to the top and see the amazing view, you are proud of yourself.”
Learning mental toughness and how to handle frustration and anger were some key skills that PJ learnt through the various challenges. The staff teach about “living in the moment” and “not stressing about things you cannot change”.
The solo experience, which involves spending two nights and two days alone in the bush, gave PJ a chance to reflect on life. Describing the experience, PJ says: “They drop you off at night, so I just focused on what I needed to do to get set up and then getting to sleep as soon as possible.” While on his own, he thought about all the good things in his life that weren’t with him there, particularly his family. “I missed my nephew a lot.”
It was hard to say goodbye to his watchmates but good to be home, and his family has noticed a change – they say he’s more patient.
What would he say to others interested in Outward Bound? “Just do it, live in the moment,” PJ says.