Journey into the wild

Imagine hiking up “insane mountains” with little-to-no walking tracks and jumping into an impressive raft to travel through white water rapids.

This is the kind of adventure Berry Street’s young people get the chance to experience as part of the child support agency’s wilderness program.

Berry Street wilderness program senior coordinator Doug Moczynski said the program challenged young people as they traversed out into the wild, completing activities they’d perhaps never before experienced.

“It could be a little bit scary for them, but I guess what it generally does is it shows them they’ve got quite a high level of resilience and they’ve got a really good sense of coping with challenging situations,” Mr Moczynski said.

“So it gives them a positive memory. It gives them a realisation that they can achieve things when it’s tough.”

Berry Street Gippsland’s young people recently completed an eight-day hiking trip decked out in new hoodies with the use of two high-quality rafts.

The rafts replaced equipment that was about 25 to 30 years old and “falling apart”, making trips safer and easier for all involved.

The new gear arrived thanks to a $4500 donation from the Morwell Bowling Club, which general manager Jess Feather said prided itself on supporting the community.

“Hopefully they (the Berry Street young people) can go on to bigger and better things and get out into the workforce,” Mr Feather said.

“We’re just very proud as a club to be able to support the community and we think Berry Street is a fantastic organisation to support.”

The wilderness program gives 15 year-old Michael a chance to go rafting, kayaking, fishing and camping while learning about outdoor survival such as where to find clean drinking water.

The self-described ‘outdoor active kid’ joined his friend, 14 year-old Sam, on the recent hike and rafting trip where the pair got to test out the new rafts.

Sam said rafting was “scary and fun at the same time”.

“(It feels) pretty good to know the Morwell Bowling Club donated them (the rafts) and I reckon that’s pretty good of them to do that,” Sam said.

Any young person who has an affiliation with Berry Street can participate in the wilderness program, which offers extensive trips and taster days throughout the year.

Mr Moczynski said more than offering fun outdoors activities, the program taught invaluable life skills that helped young people overcome obstacles.

“We always say to them, ‘it could be the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their life potentially’, and when they do it they’re on such a high,” Mr Moczynski said.

“And maybe when they come back to normal life, when something presents quite challenging, they might be able to look back on that experience and realise they’ve got that potential to overcome (challenges).”