Queen Charlotte College students faced fears of falling and drowning during their holidays last month to emerge back at school as confident leaders.
The college's 2013 head boy, Nick Ivamy, 17, and head girl Ruby Maurice, 17, took part in a three-week fulltime Outward Bound student leadership course in the Sounds designed to give them the mental strength they needed to guide others during the school year.
Nick said the greatest challenges in the course were designed to push the students' mental barriers as they became less focused on physical hurdles.
His hardest task was climbing to the top of a 40-foot rock face, blindfolded.
"I'm not afraid of heights, I wasn't afraid of standing at the top, but I was scared of falling during the climb. I like keeping my feet on solid ground."
He was forced to rely on the guiding voices of his team-mates below, telling him where to put his hands and feet.
"I had to put my complete trust in the people at the bottom, that they would look after me. It taught me to trust people more when they are giving me instructions."
The experience had opened him up to taking on the advice of others where he previously relied heavily on himself, Nick said. "I always thought that if I can do something, then I'll do it my way. Now, I'm more open to try other people's ways of doing things."
The two year 13 students were in groups of 14, neither had been on an Outward Bound course before and both highly recommended it.
Ruby described defeating the challenge of being spun upside down in a kayak and forcing her way against the weight of the water back to the surface as "the perfect start to the year".
She was nervous ahead of the exercise, afraid of failing to complete the task without the help of instructors, but the nerves made her victory sweeter.
"They flip you over and it's up to you to roll back around. It was something I knew we had to do, I don't know what exactly I was so afraid of, but I got a bit worked up about that. I think that if I can do that, then I can come to school and do anything."
She was worried about the public speaking aspect of her role as head girl but conquering her fear gave her more confidence.
"It's not about being scared of getting on stage anymore, it's about how we can influence people. At the end of the course, you just felt like a new person."
A highlight was celebrating her 17th birthday by running a half-marathon and eating cake.
- The Marlborough Express