Fiendish tests for odyssey participants


A squad of year 12 students from Rathkeale St Matthew's senior college capped their year of studies with a week-long 2012 Odyssey adventure.

The group set out on the seven-day undertaking immediately after the senior prizegiving ceremony and were taken to a series of challenges and campsites that were known only to a handful of safety and school staff, said Stephen Carr, development manager for Trinity Schools Trust Board.

"The participants find out where they are going each morning when a fresh envelope is delivered. It is up to them to plan their route using a variety of transport - mountain bikes, kayaks, and trekking. Demanding challenges can be thrown at them at any time by fiendish planners."

Rathkeale head of science Liz Evans developed the concept and, along with other staff experienced in outdoor pursuits, has made the Odyssey adventure a highlight for senior college students.

"Months of planning and liaising with landowners has taken place, with the staff team making sure that the fiendish activities are safe, exceedingly tough and off the beaten track."

Students had to apply in writing and submit a letter of recommendation to participate in the adventure before undergoing a gruelling afternoon of tests - fitness, cooking and problem-solving, Mr Carr said.

"Participants carry nearly everything they need on their own backs, so it must be great to crawl into their tents at night. Sadly for them, on at least one night, their tents are taken away and they are given a tarpaulin.

"Then as individuals they have to build their own bivvie and spend the night away from their teams."

Other diverse challenges on the adventure involved MasterChef cookery, sheep drafting, shopping, and paintball and claybird shooting.

Rathkeale principal Willy Kersten said one of the defining features of the Trinity Schools was the unique system of single sex education at years 9 to 11, followed by co-education in the senior college at years 12 and 13.

"The year 12 Odyssey is a unique physical and mental challenge that allows students from our two schools to develop their collaboration and co-operation skills. The hope is that these skills might be put to good use next year in their studies, on the sports field or on the stage," he said.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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