Year 13 Journey Camp, a long-awaited and much-anticipated event of our high school lives. We are the first year group to have had Whenua Iti all five years of our school camps, and the expectation was high after four years of throwing ourselves into rock climbing and tumbling down banks in mountain biking. Our location this year switched to idyllic Lake Rotoiti, an
early start and a long bus ride away for the entire year group. The immediate dynamic in this camp had already changed, as all of us were present rather than being split into two groups. The stress of whose half you‟d been put in had been forgotten, as had our chemistry homework. Whenua Iti had a packed schedule for us, and we had two activities to immediately dive
into on the first day. Search and rescue presented an opportunity for a life and death version of hide and seek, making us carry „injured‟ fellow students out of the bush in a makeshift stretcher.

The Tyrolean zipline was an easy success as we tied dodgy looking knots to fly across a stream on a harness, resulting in a lot of squealing and falling over. Our first evening was spent challenging Mr Kersten to sting pong and the general shenanigans that result from a multitude of young people in a small space. Day two took us directly onto the lake itself with kayaking and raft building. The more competitive of us could excel with sponge wars and stealing paddles, while the engineers amongst us attempted a floating raft for seven people made from inflatable rubber and rope. Typically one half of the group ended up wetter than anticipated as their „raft‟ collapsed underneath them and sank. Day two was a full day with four activities in one day, the afternoon bringing orienteering and bush skills.

Orienteering had us sprinting around the area deciphering clues, trying to keep up with Ms Wright who was determined to win. When we were supposed to be building a weather proof shelter to keep two people alive, many groups elected to compete for the most excessively complicated architectural phenomena. Bush skills quickly escalated into the International Architecture Awards with a Buddhist meditation centre, woodland retreats and lifestyle properties. The camp was based on leadership skills and communication, and we had a lot more independence than on prior camps. Although we had a schedule and set activities, I know that many consider the highlight of the whole experience to be the lunch break on the first and second day. A diving platform on the lake was an easy excuse for us to rugby tackle each other into the water, and having all of us in one place was the best environment. I know I remember our previous camps not for the activities we conquered but for the in between snatched moments of friendship and independence that brought us together as a year group. Our last day at camp is always a sentimental one as we look back at our reflection book dating back to our young bright-eyed year nine selves, but especially this year, as it is our last camp.

The last challenge of camp bent our brains over backwards and really challenged our leadership and communication skills that we were developing, with the challenge to raise a flag simultaneously in our groups. The peak of this activity was all of us singing “Life is a Highway‟ directed by our arts captain Theo. We would all like to thank Whenua Iti for five years with us of adventure and friendship.