How long is the road from boyhood to manhood?
According to 13 Year 8 boys from Cooktown, it’s a highly challenging 222 kilometres.
While the boys may not officially be men yet, each of them has gained new life skills and a heightened sense of responsibility after completing local school chaplain Dave Kamholtz’ ‘Journey to Manhood’ mountain biking challenge.
“This has been an epic trip. Each day was a genuine challenge, but the boys’ persistence and commitment was deeply rewarded with memories and character development that will last a lifetime,” says Chappy Dave.
Local adventurer and businessman Ray Wright and a dedicated team of volunteer dads and grandfathers from the local community joined with Chappy Dave and the 13 boys to navigate the ‘treacherous’ Wakooka trail in Far North Queensland.The program received strong community support from families, the school, the PCYC, the local council and Indigenous Elders, who gave their blessing for the group to access Traditional Country.
“We wanted the boys to feel a sense of belonging and identity through having appropriate levels of responsibility.
“They did all of the meal preparation and planning. They also had a lot of jobs around the camp to make the ride work,” says Chappy Dave.
Each morning began with devotions, which proved popular with the group.
“You could look out and see they were all really soaking it in. You’d hear the boys talking about the devotions during the day. They’d be repeating the Bible verses in their own words,” Chappy Dave recalls.
Once the boys had been fed, physically and spiritually, they got back on their bikes to continue their journey.
“These boys at first said to me, ‘Chappy I don’t think I can do this. It’s too hard’. In the end they just refused to give up, even with broken bikes,” says Chappy Dave.
For the participants, the experience was overwhelmingly positive.
“Being away and doing this bike ride challenge helped me learn to respect other people and cooperate with them,” says Jordan, who at the time had just moved to Cooktown from Kalgoorlie and didn’t have many friends yet at school.
“By learning the teamwork stuff, it’s helped me talk with other people in my class at school and to ask for help if I need it. I now also talk to the teachers better,” he adds.
Having their chaplain and other strong, positive role models from the community to journey with them and encourage them gave these boys hope and a sense that they can achieve anything.
Financial gifts from friends like you help support school chaplains to run programs like Chappy Dave’s ‘Journey to Manhood’ for young people in need of encouragement and support.
You can support our chaplains by visiting suqld.org.au/donate.