Scouts invade Kaiwaka for 14th New Zealand Venture
The very last day of 2018 saw a large gathering of youth never seen before, with over a thousand 14-18 year olds from New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland, descending on Kaiwaka seeking adventure, challenges and some fun.
The green fields of Kaiwaka Sports Association complex’s [KSA] became a sea of colourful tents and base camp for ‘Illuminate 2019’, the leading 12 day event in Scout Association of New Zealand’s Venture programme, from December 31 to January 11. Run every three years with 2019 the 14th event to be held in New Zealand, the fully catered event took two and half years to organise and involved the dedication of over 300 volunteers.
Kicking off with a New Year’s Eve rave, ‘venturers’ began a week of expeditions pre-selected from an extensive and eclectic list, in locations across Northland and even as far south as the King Country. Travelling via local bus company Leabourns, adventures included mountain biking, abseiling, four-wheel driving, horse-riding, tramping and overnight survival treks as well as sailing, surfing, kayaking and diving. Scouts could also choose to get airborne with trial flights, gliding and sky-diving, or delve deep-under exploring the labyrinth and tight spaces of Waitomo Caves. Multi-challenges including the orienteering event, Rogaine Run, and the Amazing Race, sightseeing, and learning new skills such as shooting a .22, driving in neighbouring paddocks, LandSAR (Land Search and Rescue) certification, photography, short film making, and a ‘MasterChef Challenge’ were also part of the diverse list.
Onsite pursuits of a more leisurely pace included ice skating at Kaiwaka Hall, indoor drone obstacle racing, waterslides, archery tag, rock climbing, a variety of games, arts and crafts designed to spark imagination’s such as Lego sculptures and ‘box fort wars’ with old tomatoes as ammunition. KSA’s squash rooms were also turned into a movie theatre and ‘escape rooms’, where players have to solve a series of puzzles in order to leave. As the sun sets the campground is still alive with entertainment with a party space for raves and live bands and even a night of laughter with comedians from ‘7 Days’. Chill-out areas and grassy banks of the KSA fields offer more of a quiet spot for those worn out after an action-packed and adrenaline-filled day.
Venture National Activities Leaders Andrew Morrison aka ‘Cabbage’, “because there’s too many Andrews here, don’t even like cabbage,” and Iain Richardson aka ‘Possum’, “complicated, not allowed to tell the true story’, say the event is a blend of promoting freedom of choice, responsibility, adventure and learning.
“The wonderful programme team have put on a huge amount of activities… which is important to develop skills and personal strengths,” Cabbage says. “We want to give the venturers the best experience we can.”
The two leaders say they have been very fortunate with support for the event from KSA, Kaiwaka School and the wider community.
“We’ve pumped up the population a bit and they’ve had to put up with a bit more noise so we’re very thankful they’re sticking by us in keeping it going, “Cabbage says. “Bruce Ferguson has been doing an amazing job as local liaison.”
Venturers are accompanied by older scout leaders who have volunteered their time to ‘manage from afar’, overseeing events for safety and making sure youth are looked after.
“It’s a big job as teenagers are going through some things especially when they’re tired… we really appreciate the leaders as they sacrifice a lot to be here.”
A health and wellbeing team of medical professionals including a clinical psychologist are also located on site for help with physical ails as well as personal conflict. Even food intake is monitored via scanned wristbands to ensure youth are eating enough and not skipping on meals. No concerns regarding liquids though as ‘they’ve gone through a ridiculous amount of L&P’, with 1200 cans in five days purchased from the ‘Rovers’ café, a cool space out of the sun set up in the KSA clubrooms and run by 18-26 year old scouts. A third of the proceeds from the sales of drinks and snacks will be donated to a charity chosen by the venturers.
An acronym ‘SPICES’ is used by the organisation for the desired outcome of the event, with development and expansion of the Social, Physical, Intelligence, Character, Emotional and Spiritual qualities of each individual. Spiritual can be religious however its more about gratitude, self-reflection and knowing your own values, Possum says.
“If we achieve that as a scouting movement, we’re doing our job. It’s rewarding and hopefully puts a lot of awesome youth into our community and gives them a good start.”
1 and/or 3: A city of 1000 plus tents spread across the KSA grounds and overflow into a neighbours fields. “They’ve been fantastic, it’s that community feel which we’ve been really fortunate with,” Cabbage says.
2: Venture National Activities Leaders ‘Possum and Cabbage’ says the logistics of the massive event ‘has been pretty full-on’ and give full credit to the ‘amazing organisation team’ for pulling it all together. “We all just want the event to be the best it can for the youth.”