Youthful Pursuits – Traversing the Otways by Suzanne Frydman

On any particular day you can be sure that there are individuals and groups walking, climbing, riding, camping and generally adventuring in various spots around the Otways.  In the school of life that nature provides we can all tap into our wellbeing.

Throughout the Otways there are Scout leaders and other community groups making sure that youth, including at-risk youngsters, have the following reminders about fitting in, being themselves and developing resilience.

Either you were once the child, or a friend, parent or teacher of the child who simply did not fit in, whatever fitting in meant at the time. As a once rider on the 10-day Great Victorian Bike Ride, it was one of my teaching highlights to watch a school kid who on most days could not manage to get to school by nine, or find much enthusiasm throughout the school day, have his tent packed by six and leading the charge. Out in the ranges there is space, for all of us.

Scouts pic

Many of us who live in or near the Otways don’t get out in it nearly as much as we should or think we do. And that’s a compelling reason to join a walking club, Landcare group, or any other outdoorsy initiative. One such group for youth that has proven itself many times over is Scouts. As its website states “our programs, the friendship, the skills learnt and the activities all combine to give children, young adults and adults the resources to develop a sense of personal self worth and confidence”.

One way to develop confidence is to head off a beaten track. Managing this safely is one of the things long-time Colac Scout Venturer leader Geoffrey De La Rue does with groups of fourteen to eighteen year olds. Geoff explained that Scout groups often access parts of the Great Ocean Walk, and due to his and other leaders’ local knowledge they can head off track and thereby create challenges that require team-work, boundary setting and the development of practical knowledge and problem solving. In a word, resilience.  Bush adventures are a wonderful opportunity for both country and city kids, as well as international exchange students and visitors, to have a new experience that could lead to life-long passions and perspectives.

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