Surviving for three days and nights on little more than two carrots and a cookie was all part of the "fun" for 21-year-old Desmond Peseta during an Outward Bound course.

That was just one of the adventures the Fletcher Construction worker from Manukau had to complete after winning a specialist trades scholarship from the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO).

The three-week Outward Bound course took place in September, and saw the cement and concrete worker team up with 13 other tradespeople thrown together to help them develop life skills, self-reliance and confidence.

"Being on an Outward Bound course is something that helps teach people how to deal with everyday life, and to know there is more out there - there is more than just going to work, coming home and having a daily routine," said Peseta.


"The course helped me understand that I can grab every opportunity available to me and accept any challenge. It has taught me to get the most out of life. Sitting around just doing the same thing everyday is not really life, is it?"

Although the course involved mental and physical challenges, Peseta said the biggest obstacle he had to overcome was himself.

"One of the things I needed to face on the course was myself," he said. "I am normally a shy person and if I didn't feel I could work with someone I'd try to avoid them.

"This course taught me that you have to overcome initial feelings for the good of the team and to get the job done. The course helped me understand how to work with people that I don't know.

"In life you have to adapt and learn how to work alongside everyone. I have learnt that a team is a team. On the course I had to adapt really fast because if you don't get involved, well, life is going to carry on and leave you behind."

During three days out in the wild, Peseta had to survive by creating a shelter out of a 2m x 1m scrap of tarpaulin and with a strict ration of two carrots, an apple, a cookie and four litres of water.

"We weren't allowed to catch or kill anything to eat because we were on a national reserve," said Peseta. "I thought it might be like an SAS course, but it wasn't.

"We had to build our own shelter before nightfall and do what we could to keep the possums away. We had to make something out of nothing."

Peseta didn't know anything about the course until his foreman pulled him to one side and said he had been offered a scholarship place on the $4000 adventure.

"[The company] had put my name forward without me knowing, so it was a great surprise when they told me," he said.

"The course has been useful at work because in the construction industry you have lots of short jobs, which may only last two months.

"There are different teams on each job. The Outward Bound course has helped me to get to know new work colleagues quickly and to understand their strengths and weaknesses."

One of the reasons Fletcher Construction put Peseta forward for the adventure was because he had worked hard to reduce his weight. Over two years, he had trimmed down from 180kg to 130kg.

"It was my attitude in getting my weight down that helped my bosses decide to put me forward for this course," said Peseta.

"They saw my dedication, and I even got my foreman running up and down Mt Eden with me to keep fit every afternoon."

Peseta said he would recommend Outward Bound to any young person.

"It would help them get along in life a lot easier and know how to get a lot more out of life," he said.

"I think it would be very beneficial to New Zealand's economic state as well. Taking part in the course would get young people up on their feet and doing things."

A member of Peseta's team was 25-year-old Ben Horn. The Mitre 10 trainee applied for the scholarship after receiving a recommendation from a friend.

"The most valuable thing about the programme is building self-esteem and knowing you can always push a little bit harder and expand your limits," he said.

BCITO chief executive Ruma Karaitiana said: "The BCITO Outward Bound Scholarship is both a reward and an acknowledgement of an employee's potential, and is aimed at helping further their skills in the workplace and in their own lives.

"To win a scholarship, the entrants had to have shown potential within the industry to step up and lead - as well as being physically fit enough to participate in the gruelling course."