Young adventurers dare to dream

May 26, 2022

On a summer day in January, Caitlin Fleming built a large sandcastle on the beach in the remote Te Kainga Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound. She sat in it, looked out across the sea and told a story – “it’s about a beautiful Queen Elizabeth”.

For Caitlin and the other young people taking part in the Outward Bound Youth Horizons course, this was a chance to create and to dream. They spent five days at Anakiwa in Queen Charlotte Sound pushing boundaries and making friends. On their second day they learned to sail a cutter and landed in Te Kainga Bay to spend the night sleeping under the stars.

The IHC Foundation provided $30,000 in funding so the 11 students and school leavers with an intellectual or developmental disability could attend the course.

Without any distractions – phones and laptops had to be left behind – they focused on the challenges of being close to nature. They took part in adventure tramping, camping, sea journeys, rock climbing and a high ropes challenge.

Working with three Outward Bound instructors and two support workers, the group learned to work as a team to solve problems, to make decisions and to support each other in the various challenges.

Caitlin, from Christchurch, is the second person in her family to do an Outward Bound course and, at age 20, she is younger than her dad Lindsay was, at 21. Caitlin is proud that she is carrying on the family tradition. Her younger sister Ashleigh plans to go to Outward Bound later this year.

But Caitlin didn’t get any inside tips from her dad. “It’s about your discovery and your self-discovery.

It’s your story, not someone else’s story,” he says. “I am really proud of what she has achieved.”

Nathan Carter, from Darfield in Canterbury, is a champion runner in mainstream cross-country and road race events. This summer he found new skills in the high ropes challenge. Going to Outward Bound was part of his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, which he plans to complete this year.

Nathan, 19, left Darfield High School last year and is working hard towards independence and employment. He got his full driver’s licence when he was 18 and drives his own car. He is doing work experience at the Rolleston Salvation Army store and stacking shelves at a New World supermarket.

On top of that he is living away from home one day a week to get ready to go flatting.

For a young autistic man who finds trying new things a challenge, Nathan has been testing his limits. Following Outward Bound he went on a sea adventure with the Spirit of Adventure in February.

“The overwhelming thing about that was that there were 30 young people. That many people can be a bit of a challenge for him,” says his mum, Bridget Carter. “He is definitely a lot more confident being on his own,” she says. “He is autistic and proud. He is very happy in his own skin.”

Nathan doesn’t find communicating easy but came back from Outward Bound very clear about one thing. “I want to do it again please.”

Caption 1: Caitlin Fleming and Samuel Pethig tackle the low ropes.

Caption 2: Runner Nathan Carter discovers new skills.


This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members. Read the full issue of Strong Voices or view more articles.