A dozen youngsters from Te Puke are about to come to the end of over two weeks of adventure.
The 12 set off from Te Puke on a wilderness adventure on April 28 and are due to return on Saturday.
They are taking part in Project K, a Graeme Dingle Foundation programme that aims to build confidence, develop life skills, promote good health and encourage a positive attitude. It is designed for Year 10 students.
The foundation's Bay of Plenty manager, Dan Allen-Gordon, says the wilderness adventure includes kayaking, cycling and tramping a total of 180km with the youngsters spending most nights under canvas.
''In that time they'll have two showers,'' he says. ''There are usually a few shocked faces when it comes round to talking about what they are going to do in the wilderness and they find that out.''
Project K is often schools based, but the Te Puke programme is different in that it is being run in conjunction with Ngā Kākano Foundation.
It is being funded by the Ministry of Youth Development's Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund.
The fund's purpose is to support community-based youth development programmes delivered outside traditional education settings to support ākonga (learners) aged between 12 and 21 who have been adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic to stay engaged in their education journey.
Referrals came from a variety of agencies in the greater Te Puke area.
''The kids go to different schools but are all from the Te Puke community,'' says Dan. ''We did home visits to the whānau of the young people referred by social services and through guidance from schools, and 12 young people were selected to take part.''
Project K usually comprises a wilderness adventure, community challenge and several months of mentoring.
The Te Puke programme will also incorporate a residential element.
''That will be part of the community challenge and will be at Ngati Moko Marae and the community projects will be done with mentors after they have met their mentors. They will help in the community after that.''
For the rest of the year the youngsters will meet regularly with their mentors.
''It's very likely that those relationships will continue afterwards, because they'll have a bond and a friendship,'' says Dan.
Ngā Kākano Foundation's alcohol and other drugs practitioner Ripeka Armstrong says it is ''awesome'' the Graeme Dingle Foundation decided to work with Ngā Kākano on the initiative.
''It's quite special,'' she says, ''it gives our rangatahi (youth) - probably some of them won't have even been outside of Te Puke - an opportunity to see and participate in something they probably won't get another opportunity to do.''
She says the initiative will boost their spiritual wellbeing and physical wellbeing and also give them an insight into what their future could hold.
''Project K is holistic and they're given the resources and the funding to be able to do so much more than a provider like us can give. It's very special for Te Puke.''
There are plans for three further Project K programmes to take place in 2022.
''It's not just for the Māori kids either,'' says Ripeka. ''It's also for the non-Māori kids who we see struggling, to put their names forward as well.''