A group of Northland secondary school students have had life-changing experiences on a 21-day Outward Bound course.

Fourteen students from Northland schools tested themselves mentally and physically at Kotahitanga, an Outward Bound course designed for the region's young people.

Over 21 days, the students went through a variety of activities held in the Outward Bound school and its surrounds in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

The students, from Bay of Islands College, Dargaville High School, Kaitaia Abundant Life School, Kaitaia College, Taipa Area School, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Kaikohe and Kamo High School - were selected for their leadership and commitment at school.

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"It was great to have the Kotahitanga 2019 course in school during March. They were a really energetic and positive group of young people, who quickly became a family supporting each other as they learnt to build courage and resilience, and experience success as a member of a team. They also learned to identify their own values, develop an appreciation for the natural environment and experience being of service," said Outward Bound school director Simon Graney.

Kamo High School year 12 student Kalia Trebilco-Leaf said the most challenging part of
Outward Bound wasn't physical, it was stepping outside her comfort zone.

"For me the physical things like sailing, tramping or rock climbing weren't the most challenging, it was the things like being made a leader in certain situations and self-reflection. But that was also my biggest learning – that I am actually capable of being a leader. I just need to speak up and be the role model people want to follow," Trebilco-Leaf said.

She said the focus Outward Bound has on community cemented her plans.

"I want to make my community a better place – to install more service in our town like picking up rubbish, painting over graffiti and hosting more functions catered towards bringing the community together. I know that my future career plans will include something that will have a positive impact on my community like working with the law or the environment."

The Kotahitanga Outward Bound course is made possible through the generous support of Foundation North, Ronaki Ltd, and individuals who believe in the young people of the Northland region.

Outward Bound has been transforming lives of New Zealanders since 1969, with more than 55,000 young Kiwis attending courses designed to help them to reach their full potential through outdoor adventures.