One of the realities of our modern, technologically driven society, is that young people can find themselves, through no fault of their own, alienated from the natural world and deprived of particular physical and sensory experiences that previous generations took for granted. One of the purposes of the Odyssey adventure journeys, therefore, is to offer boys a physically challenging experience which promotes personal responsibility in ways which bring about a genuine sense of achievement alongside personal growth and development.

One of the highlights of the Margaret River camp is the natural environment in which the boys spend their time. Situated just outside of Karridale, between Margaret River and Augusta, the Explorus campsite and surrounding areas contain some of the most beautiful natural wonders of our state. During our three-night stay from Monday to Thursday, we stayed at the Karridale campsite and in a paddock at Boathaugh, a privately owned farm on the banks of the Blackwood River.

The camp was run on the principle of ‘Challenge by Choice’, and I was so proud of the ways the boys rose to each challenge. This principle was seen by some boys overcoming a fear of heights to abseil down a sheer cliff or by beginning and in some cases, completing the High Ropes Course. Others found working their way through the steep ladders and tight spaces in Giant’s Cave confronting. For others, finding the mental strength to push on with a heavy backpack when the physical demands of our bushwalk were really starting to hit home, was a test of character. In the end, it wasn’t about who was the strongest or the fittest, but about how each individual reacted when their character was tested. This is where some of the most important examples of personal growth could be found.

Since returning to the world of flushing toilets, hot showers and home-cooked meals, we might well ask about the long-term effect of the Odyssey. Hopefully, each boy now has a greater appreciation for the fact that every journey, the actual and the metaphorical, begins with a single step, whether that be a long walk, studying for exams or preparing for a sporting season. Every journey has its share of difficulties, but there are also moments of beauty, fun and accomplishments, big and small. I hope that our boys now appreciate that they have reserves of courage and determination that they never knew they had. If this is true for most of them, then we can deem the camp to have been a great success.

Maree Brennan, Head of Edmund House