A taste for (ad)Venture

13 Nov 2019

The new – or recently revived after a long hiatus – College Venture Group heads for the hills at weekends, taking on scree slopes, river crossings, forest tracks, prickly spear grass, sun, wind, rain, and the excitement and challenge of the great outdoors.

Now with two trips under their belt – the first on Saturday 2 November to Arthur’s Pass and up the Waimakariri river-bed to the Anti Crow Hut, and the second on Saturday 9 November to Craigieburn Forest Park and over Camp Saddle – the boys who have chosen to join Venture Group are getting a taste for adventure.

Mathematics teacher Tom Hawkins got hooked on tramping when he moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and says he was surprised there wasn’t already an established tramping club at College, as being out in the mountains is such a big part of Kiwi culture. With the Immerse & Inspire programme giving Year 10 boys valuable wilderness experience, Tom thought he’d harness their enthusiasm and provide an opportunity for them to do more. Six students in Years 10–12 have selected Venture Group as their summer sport, with more interested but committed to other sports.

“It gives boys an opportunity to do something physical and challenging that’s different from the norm. Tramping is a really satisfying sport. It gets you to places where lots of other people either can’t get to or won’t get to and the world takes on a different complexion when you’re in that kind of environment.”

Tom can already see changes in the Venture Group boys. “It’s really lovely to see the boys in a different setting, challenging themselves in a new way, testing their skills and taking leadership roles in the outdoors. They really step up and grow into themselves, and it’s good that boys from different year levels are involved, creating connections between juniors and seniors.”

Tom anticipates the group will have one overnight tramp each month and perhaps a longer trip at the end of the season. During the winter terms he plans to run a couple of snowcraft sessions, but only when the boys have acquired a good base set of skills.

“Tramping is low impact, great for long-term health, and builds an appreciation for places we’re lucky enough to have right on our doorstep. I’m expecting the boys who regularly go out into the hills will develop a deep connection to the physical environment of Canterbury and the alps. It’s all about expanding opportunities and horizons.”

There are so many amazing day and overnight walks within easy reach of Christchurch that the Venture Group can look forward to many more tramps to come – and, as Year 10 student Tom Whitteker says, the first trips have “only fuelled our hunger for more mountain adventures in the future.”