Byline: Natalie Staples
A curiosity for life beyond Alice inspired 17-year-old Jessica Abbott to join a tall ship on an 11-day adventure at sea.
The Year 12 St Phillips College student spotted a Young Endeavour poster at boarding school, and with a little encouragement from a boarding mistress travelled to Eden in New South Wales and joined 18 other young Australians for a voyage to Sydney.
The shy student said while being on a boat was well beyond her realm of experience, it was a great experience.
“Stepping onto Young Endeavour was the first time that I’d been on a ship. It was a little scary at first, but it was really good and I really enjoyed it,” Jessica said.
“When I arrived I knew absolutely no one, but the staff crew did a great job of organising activities were we all got to know everyone.”
Young Endeavour Youth Scheme provides young Australians aged 16-23 with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea.
During each voyage, youth live and work with a diverse range of people from across Australia and are encouraged to pursue personal and team goals and challenges in an unfamiliar environment as they learn to sail a square-rigged tall ship.
“I was really quite and timid at first, but my friends on board helped to bring out the best in me. They were really helpful, caring and loving “
“Alice is a really small, so it’s great to go out into the world and discover that there are really good people out there,” Jessica said.
“One of the best things for me was getting some confidence and learning new things.”
The voyage explored some spectacular parts off the New South Wales coastline and youth crew had time to use the rope swing and swim in the ocean and go ashore.
“Climbing the mast was amazing. Being up there so high watching the beautiful view of the ocean and the lands were spectacular, I could really connect to nature and really be at peace,” Jessica said.
"Life out at sea was like being in another world with a crew who became like family, It was just love and happiness, always smiling, laughing and doing everything every day. I honestly felt so sad at the end of the voyage
“Now I’m back at school I’m telling other people who are interested that if they’re thinking about it they should just do it. You don’t know what you’ll get out of it unless you try.”
The Young Endeavour conducts up to 20 voyages a year, predominantly up the east coast of Australia. Since the program started in 1988, over 13,100 Australian youth have sailed on her and benefitted from the program, which increase self-awareness and a sense of community responsibility while developing teamwork and leadership skills.
Applications and more information can be found at www.youngendeavour.gov.au