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Teens conquer the high seas

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 08:15 13/07/2012
Crazy Crew
CRAZY CREW: Crew members Mike Baker, Kerry Roger, student Jacob Colligan, 14, at the helm, and skipper Thomas Collicott on board the Lion New Zealand.

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Sailing, kayaking, pitching tents and climbing more than 2500 steps up Great Barrier Island's Mt Hobson is sure a way to work up a sweat.

"That's why we smell so bad," 14-year-old Jacob Colligan says after arriving back in Auckland following a 19-day wilderness adventure.

He was one of 12 Birkenhead College students who was chosen by youth programme Project K to live aboard Sir Peter Blake's 1989 Whitbread yacht – Lion New Zealand – and explore wider Auckland.

Teens are chosen to take part in the 14-month programme to gain positive life skills, set goals, learn teamwork, leadership and boost their self-confidence.

The wilderness adventure is one of three components of the programme.

They began the journey in kayaks and mountain bikes, then boarded Lion NZ and sailed towards Great Barrier.

Jacob, of Chatswood, says learning the ropes "was nerve-wracking in the beginning" but quickly developed good navigation skills.

"The waves would come and you'd have to pull it back.

"It's definitely a big confidence builder."

He says he developed close friendships but focusing on self-development was the main thing.

"It's more a building confidence thing ... not as much team activities but just pushing yourself to your personal best, seeing what you're capable of."

Birkdale's Sammie Warth, 14, says a career path is clearer now after being involved with Project K.

"I've learned so much, I've got a lot more confidence in myself and what I want to do.

"I actually want to be a vet and work with animals.

"I've kind of been realising it as I've grown up but after this I think I can do it."

Skipper Thomas Collicott, 29, says the initiative is about long-term goals.

"I think the confidence they'll gain from doing that ... is going to be really cool for them in the future."

Crew member Mike Baker, 21, is on his fifth Project K trip and says taking responsibility is key.

"Kids these days don't get a chance to be challenged, to get pushed into situations and see what they can actually do themselves.

"It's just amazing seeing these guys step on up."

NZ Sailing Trust, Foundation for Youth Development and the Sir Peter Blake marine education and recreation centre were also involved.

The Project K was founded in 1995 and is part of the Foundation for Youth Development.

Project K North Shore also helps students at Glenfield, Northcote and Rangitoto colleges.

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Visit fyd.org.nz/ProjectK

- North Shore Times

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