I recently had the privilege of attending the William Pike Challenge Award ceremony at Loburn School, which is way down the other end of the Kaikoura electorate.
William Pike's story and the Challenge Award he has established are inspiring. Here we have a real life story about someone who has overcome adversity and created something that embraces young people and encourages resourcefulness in us all.
William Pike was mountaineering on Mt Ruapehu in 2007 when he was caught in an eruption while over-nighting in the Dome Shelter. A speeding slurry of huge boulders, rocks and mud forced its way into the hut, crushing William's legs. As a result of the serious injuries he sustained, William lost his right leg below the knee.
At the ceremony at Loburn School William spoke about how his preparation for being in the outdoors helped with his rehabilitation and led to his setting up the WPCA for young people.
The WPCA is an outdoor activity based programme targeting 11 and 12-year-olds and is based around a pre-determined set of outdoor activities that are completed within one school year.
In 2013 there will be 18 schools throughout New Zealand either participating in or developing the WPCA. The activities the children undertake are designed to be challenging, encourage resourcefulness and co-operation.
The Loburn School participants did rope climbing, a two day trek into Mt White, going through the Castle Hill caves and kayaking - all the types of activities that will extend even the most adventuresome kids.
They also completed 20 hours' community service, which included caring for senior citizens and helping at the SPCA - constructive community work.
As we all crowded into the Loburn School assembly hall where we watched the awards presentation it was impressive to see what these local students were able to achieve through participation in the challenge.
The local businesses that help support the WPCA must have also felt their contributions were well directed.
The kids were so outwardly proud of themselves and the principal, Stuart Priddy, spoke of looking at the bigger picture - where these young ones are going to head.
Every student who started the challenge had the determination to complete it, and this achievement will help make them better citizens. The younger school students that look on can also look forward to doing the challenge when the time comes.
This student success story points to life skills within school curricula that help young New Zealanders become more resourceful, caring and practical people.
Here in Marlborough there are opportunities for young people and families to join clubs and organisations that not only extend capabilities but take advantage of the beautiful place we live in. We have the open sea, the Sounds, mountains, lakes and rivers within easy reach - so easy we probably tend to take it for granted.
All of which brings me back to the Mistletoe Bay Trust and the wonderful job being done by Simon Heath and the trustees who are all volunteers caring for the Mistletoe Bay reserve and camping ground. Here people can enjoy pristine living in Queen Charlotte Sound and the trust's camp education programmes for schools deliver an exciting outdoors experience for children.
Summertime - the challenge I put out there is for everyone, regardless of age, to get out and experience the outdoors. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
- The Marlborough Express