Do you ever get the urge to get out of your comfort zone, step out of the normal, and expose yourself to a completely new and challenging situation? Nowadays there are so many opportunities for the youth of Australia, and I’m here to tell you about just one of them. A few months ago I took a chance and applied for the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, which I have to say was one of the best decisions I have made, to this day. The Young Endeavour is a tall ship gifted by Britain for the youth of Australia, which does youth development voyages all around australia, and even the world. I applied back in March, and was over the moon when I found out I was selected for a voyage from Cairns to Gove. I got on the ship in August, and I quickly became aware that I was the youngest of the 19 youth crew. I had to say goodbye to my friends and family for 2 weeks without any form of communication for a strange bed with strange people I have never met before.
On my first day, I achieved climbing up to the topgallant yard which is the highest horizontal mast where you set the sails. Every new day I was challenged in building teamwork and leadership, whilst learning how to set sails, navigate, operate the helm and complete night watches. I faced many challenges like sleep deprivation, seasickness and overcoming my fears of the heights, but I knew not to let it take over my experience. I made life long friendships, forged by lack of sleep, extremely close proximity and challenging team building activities, all of which I still talk to regularly.
On the 10th day of the voyage, the staff members hand the ship over to the youth crew completely for 24 hours, allowing us to use everything we had learnt in the last 9 days and put it into practice. I was voted in by my fellow youthies to be the Second in Command; the Sail Master, which was an amazing achievement for me. I worked closely with the youth crew captain, navigator, watch officer and the rest of the crew to get the ship to its destination in one piece. It was extremely stressful and so challenging, but I learnt so much about leadership and how to be a part of a team whilst still being a leader.
I will never forget the experiences, lessons, places and friendships that I made through this Youth program, and I recommend it to every single one of you. You are eligible to apply when you are 16, and the only requirements are you need to be physically and medically fit, and able to swim 50 meters. 2017 voyages will take you to the Bass Strait, see parts of Tasmania or see the Sapphire Coast off of New South Wales. Sail away from the safe harbour!
Katya Bandow; Young Endeavour Ambassador