My name is Naomi, I'm a 22 year old Preschool Teacher from Wollongong. Toward the end of the journey I was asked to share with the crew why I applied for the Young Endeavour and what I had learnt from the experience. At first I was reluctant to do so out of fear. However, if one thing stuck with me from this journey, it is what my Captain and Watch Leader kept telling me:

 

"Take every opportunity that you are given, and give it your all. You don't want to reach the end of this voyage and realise that you have regrets, because you may never get to experience this again."

 

When I was 12, I saw 'Pirates of the Caribbean’ for the first time, and fell in love with tall ships and the idea of sailing. I did plenty of online exploration of ships and came across the Young Endeavour Voyage. I was so excited, because it meant that I could apply in only 4 years!

As I got older, things changed much like they do with any teenager, only I was oblivious to what was happening to my mind and body. At 14, unbeknownst to me I developed depression. I lived with this in silence until the age of 17, where after 2 suicide attempts, I realised that the emotions I had been experiencing probably weren't normal 'teenage hormones'. I have been medicated for my condition since that day and experienced many challenges in that time but nothing that could prepare me for this journey I was about to undertake.

I previously hadn’t applied for the Young Endeavour due to my condition rendering me unstable but FINALLY I realised that the time had come. I was ready for this journey and I needed to do something about it! Thankfully, I was granted a berth for the Darwin Voyage 15/16. Nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.

During my trip, I learned that by being one of the older 'Youthies' meant that you had a lot of younger people looking to you for guidance. This was something new for me as I had never really had people ask for my opinion or require my assistance in making decisions before. To realise that I could assist people in this way was a truly incredible and uplifting experience.

 

On my first night (like everyone else) we were asked to climb the mast. As soon as I saw this, my heart dropped - I've never been scared of heights but this was unlike anything I had ever seen before! I made sure that I was the last person to go up but still I had a go. I only got up to the first landing before I burst into tears and begged to come down. When I got down I suddenly realised how embarrassed I was and set myself a goal to confidently reach that landing with no tears. The support I received from the staff was phenomenal and I am eternally grateful for their efforts because by day three I had achieved my voyage goal!By the second day my watch and I were already moving like a well established team. We all had different skill sets and abilities which led to us functioning so smoothly. This collaboration allowed us to accomplish feats such as setting the sails and sailing the ship a few nautical miles.

 On my third night, I encountered an issue I had seen many times in my life but never in the light that it was currently presented. I came across one of my fellow Youthies who was quite distressed. At this stage, no one knew of my personal history, and I wasn't one to shout it from the roof tops. I took this opportunity to share my personal story.  I was able to explain that I had felt the same way myself many times and yet here I still was.  I felt very fortunate being able to relate to and encourage somebody who was experiencing personal demons.

During our 'Twilight Sail' on our second last day, we hosted many VIP members of Darwin City and the Australian Navy. Whilst serving food I engaged in conversation where I was asked my reasons for coming on this beautiful ship. I was surprised that I shared my story and was asked to share it during a speech at the end of the cruise. At first I didn't want to get up in front of my crew and all of the important people present and let them know of my short comings.  There was one thing that stuck with me, it was what my Captain and Watch Leader kept telling me about taking every opportunity and embracing it to the fullest.

 

I seized the opportunity once again and boy, am I glad I did.  Never have I been embraced and accepted like I was after I shared my story. Before this voyage I struggled to think about my journey without becoming emotional but now I have managed to present it to a group of strangers with confidence which is something that this Voyage has helped me with.

I joined the Young Endeavour crew as a nervous, self doubting 22 year old who stood in the shadows wherever I went and left the ship as a confident, strong woman who is ready to try new things, challenge myself and push harder in life. I went 11 days outside of my comfort zone (sometimes not being able to finish a task without being in tears). I lived with an amazing bunch of young people (and young at heart) who I now feel comfortable referring to as family. I managed to gain strength, overcome obstacles and learn a new appreciation of all aspects of life. 

 

Since my Voyage on the STS Young Endeavour, I have become more active in my SES unit, joined Camp Quality as a companion and am about to participate in the World’s Greatest Shave. I have reduced my medication to the lowest dosage to which my doctor confidently claims is the direct result of my voyage. I have made 23 new friends from across Australia which I keep in touch with on a regular basis.

You will not find another experience that will be as rewarding as the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme. I strongly encourage everybody aged 16-23 to apply. This voyage has changed my life and it will change yours too.

Naomi Jones