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26 Sep, 2012

Warrior’s World

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Warrior’s World

BECOMING A WARRIOR

So after completing school last year, Brent decided to join Warriors, an extreme sporting gap programme for young adults that was started in 2004. The programme’s selection is very particular, with just 24 to 40 participants selected each year. The Warriors base camp is in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo, and the course focuses on four crucial values: Social skills, self-actualisation, entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as adventure, eco-tourism, health and fitness.

 

Going through the Warriors programme boosted Brent’s confidence and he became more independent, self-reliant and sociable. He faced fears some of us would never even dream of and did amazing activities that many people would like to tick off their bucket lists! “The only risk in life is not taking one, and Warriors has helped me face a lot of fears,” says Brent.

 

EMBRACING THE PHYSICAL

In this day and age, it’s important for youngsters to be exposed to nature, skills and society while maintaining a mental and physical health, says Warriors facilitator Rowena Viljoen. It is important for us to challenge the Warriors to play outside of their comfort zone, in what we refer to as the courage zone. Our philosophy is that you are more than what you think. A healthy body is a healthy mind. It keeps us young and pumps endorphins to keep us happy,” she explains.

 

So what is the programme all about? Well, apart from waking up at 5am every morning for a 10km run around base camp in Magoebaskloof’s misty hills, the Warriors endure long distance swims, challenging themselves to swim the renowned Ebenezer Mile Open Swim, and often go on regular 80km mountain bike rides. The Warriors also go rafting, scuba-diving and camping, learn to build fires and set up small traps and snares, and do first aid courses.

 

A big part of the physical side of Warriors is mountain biking. They even compete in a 24-hour race to test their endurance. And while the group maintains fitness with daily running, there are several hiking expeditions, some over several days, where participants learn trail ethics, learn to cook their own food, and navigate a route through the unmarked Serala Wolkberg Wilderness.

 

Other adventure activities include scuba-diving in Mozambique, ocean sailing in KwaZulu-Natal (where students can earn a yacht hand’s certificate), horsemanship, bridge swings and even abseiling from the country’s great waterfalls.

 

”For us as a family, this is a way of life, and the feeling and experience of making a difference in the lives of young adults gives us a sense of purpose and meaning,” explains Rowena.

 

AN ENRICHING EXPERIENCE

The Warriors programme has been a blessing to many participants. Michael Swilling, a Warrior from 2006, describes the programme as enriching to his life. “Every facet of my being grew in leaps and bounds. There can't be many places in the world where one can experience both skydiving and sewing, gun-handling and gardening, horse-riding and scuba diving, all the while exploring both the country and yourself.” Michael also feels that there is too much pressure for youngsters to go from high school to a tertiary institution and then work. “Warriors builds an amazing foundation from which to live the rest of your life.”

 

Antonia De Luca, a Warrior from 2004, recommends the programme to anyone leaving school. “I was young and it really helped me to grow up. Warriors pushes you out of your comfort zone, so it is great for personal growth and achievement!”

 

Rowena gives simple advice to those who are looking to make a change and do something completely different. “If you are serious about your future and are looking for an exciting and adventurous environment where you could take a look at yourself, what you want from life, and what attitudes you need to develop to get there, then Warriors is the place for you!”

 

One thing is for sure: After tackling the Warriors programme, you should be able to tackle any endurance sporting event in the world!