A life-changing endeavour

Posted 21 September 2018 12:13pm

It’s midnight, and as I climb on deck for my watch I’m instantly soaked by sea spray and rain. The storm buffets the small wooden sailing ship, rocking it from side to side as I stagger along the deck. We need to get the sails down. We need to stay on course. And we’re on our own. Below deck a crew of experienced sailors are sleeping soundly in their bunks, but we can’t call on them, that would be admitting defeat.

Because this is command day. This is where us “youthies” get to put all we have learned over that past week-and-a-half into practice by taking full control of the vintage sailing ship – The Young Endeavour. And we’re up for it.

I first heard about the Young Endeavour through my Dad. It’s an old-style “tall ship”, which provides challenging training voyages to young Australians. At the time I was not old enough to apply so I put it at the back of my mind until I started my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

The Gold Award requires participants to complete a Residential Project, a minimum five-day activity away from family and friends; so I applied to the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme. A few days later I was accepted and so began the process to one of the best experience of my life so far.

The voyage started in Newcastle took a slightly roundabout, 11-day route to Brisbane with 30 youth members and crew. The first few days were really hard as I had never sailed and became incredibly sick. This was also when we learnt everything we needed to know about how to sail and look after the ship.

Although I was sick at the start, my experiences once I gained my sea legs were unforgettable. I gained incredible leadership skills working alongside youth aged 16-22 from all around Australia. My self-confidence developed through the activities and the environment I was placed in.

If you are looking for a little adventure, I would highly recommend applying for the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme as the experiences and rewards available through this program are of a once-in-a-lifetime variety. It challenges you to try your best and pushes you out of your comfort zone. I was definitely out of my comfort zone when I climbed to the top of the ship’s mast for the first time.

The best part of the voyage was meeting so many great people and creating lifelong friendships. I will never forget climbing to the top of the mast to watch the sunset over the ocean surrounded by the people I had become so close with.

Madeleine Pont
Year 12 Robertson

Photo above: Madeleine (back row, second from left) with other participants in the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme. 

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