Family bound together by adventure

21:08, Jan 09 2014
Lepperton Farmer Mark Henderson full
Lepperton Farmer Mark Henderson has taken his 3 oldest daughters through Outward Bound and is now preparing to take his youngest. L to R Stephanie, 17, Sarah, 13, Mark, Emma, 22, Louise, 20.

A Lepperton teen will walk in her sisters' shoes this year and take on the outdoors with dad.

Mark Henderson has taken three of his four daughters through Outward Bounds, the adventure school at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds.

This year the youngest, Sarah, 13, will challenge herself in the eight day Leaps and Bounds programme, for parents and teens.

"I reckon it should be compulsory," Mr Henderson said.

"There's rock climbing, high ropes, kayaking, sailing, two nights solo and a lot of blackboard work with values and things like that which are important. The best thing I got out of it was looking at the relationship between parent and child, learning to speak to each other as adults."

The dairy farmer had always wanted to attend the outdoor pursuits school, but never got around to it when he was younger.

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When he heard about the parent and teen course, he jumped at the opportunity, and decided after the first go it was an experience all of his daughters should have.

Louise was up first at the age of 13, and her time there was life-changing.

The 20-year-old is about to finish her third year in outdoor education at Aoraki Polytechnic, where coincidentally, her 2006 Outward Bound instructor is now a tutor.

"It's shaped what I've done. Occasionally I see things that will take me back to Outward Bound," she said.

Louise has just spent three months in Nepal, and prior to that she worked as an instructor at Topec, but the long term goal is to end up back where it all began.

Sarah, 13, is about to take on the challenge in April, but her sisters have been fairly quiet about what she can expect.

"I know there's a three km run every morning, and a 12k run on the last day," she said.

However Mr Henderson said wife and mother Viv was not as eager as her daughters to join the family's tradition.

"She said ‘when they upgrade it to five star accommodation and they have coffee, she'll do it."

The three-time participant said Outward Bound is still a challenge, physically and mentally.

"I've been on the high ropes three times and I still think I shake as much as the first time."

Taranaki Daily News