Twelve Marlborough teenagers will tramp and cycle from Lewis Pass to Blenheim over the next three weeks.
It's a good distance overland, but all going well it's the terrain they will cover in their minds and hearts that will lead them further than they ever imagined possible.
The six boys and six girls in the 2012 Marlborough Project K intake left Blenheim yesterday morning.
Foundation for Youth Development regional manager Kelvin Watt said the young people had been selected because "they have more potential than they realise".
"It's about opening their eyes to what they can achieve".
The teens will be welcomed back to Blenheim on October 12, before beginning the next steps in the programme: community service and mentoring.
Two outdoor instructors will lead the group through team building and outdoor skills over the next week before they begin their journey home: tramping the St James Walkway, mountain biking the Rainbow Road and cycling down the Wairau Valley home to Blenheim.
Nikki Barnes, 14, got a big hug from her mother Sue Barnes before she headed away.
Ms Barnes said it was a very big deal for Nikki to be away from home for that long - never mind being out of cellphone range.
Next week Ms Barnes and other family and friends of the young people will gather to get letters from the teenagers and see photos taken during the first week. They would have a chance to send letters back to them, too.
Within a few hours of Nikki leaving, Ms Barnes was already thinking about what she would write.
Mr Watt said it might be the first time some of the teens had written or received letters, rather than emails or texts.
Project K is one strand of Foundation for Youth Development. It is designed to inspire 13-to-15-year-olds to reach their potential by building self-confidence, promoting health and education and teaching life skills such as goal setting and teamwork.
It was started by mountaineer Graeme Dingle and adventurer Jo-Anne Wilkinson in 1995.
- The Marlborough Express