A Day on the Pinnacle

A mobile adventure unit brings hope to kids at risk.
By: Tamsin Vine

We are based in a beautiful park in the center of the North Island of New Zealand, near a city called Rotorua. The park has the most awesome walks and forests, with exotic scenery. If you are interested in outdoor pursuits then this place has it all-rock climbing, archery, mountain biking and many other activities which you can participate in. The people who work in the park are friendly and have made us very welcome. We have the opportunity to work for the park whenever we are not on the road and we instruct in rock climbing or abseiling. We live in a converted barn which has four bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, bathroom and office. It is perhaps not the most glamorous place in the world but it can be quite cosy when we light the fire. This is our base and we live here when we are not touring.

We have a mobile adventure unit. It is a truck and trailer unit which is about 33 feet long. It is called the Pinnacle Challenge. It includes abseiling, rock-climbing, high wire and leap of faith. It is assembled by us and is a large part of the job and takes about 40 minutes every time the trailer is used. You have to get used to bolts and grease and rivets and getting the odd bruise. When we have a booking we always have an early start. We get up about 6 - 6:30am and are on the road by 7 - 7:30am. We run classroom-based programs which cover different topics such as communication, problem solving and fear and risk-taking. We usually work in pairs with the teaching. This part is a
wonderful opportunity to get to know the kids and the kids here have responded with warmth and enthusiasm. The Pinnacle Challenge is used as a teaching tool and we associate what we have taught in the classroom with the climbing, etc. Once we have set up, then we introduce ourselves to the group (usually about 30 kids). Then we split the group and half goes on the Pinnacle Challenge and the other half is taken through the classroom activities. We then swap over twice more and the day finishes when the school day finishes, around 3:00pm. Then we dissasemble the Pinnacle Challenge (40 minutes) and then we head back to the base where we do any paperwork that needs to be done. There is a high rate of teenage suicide in New Zealand and the whole program was conceived with this problem in mind. We are involved to reduce this problem!

We spend a lot of time on the road driving around in our Odyssey (Honda). It is a comfortable people carrier and makes traveling easy. We organize accommodation with the local churches. So far we have stayed in church halls/sabbath school rooms and have been looked after by the local church. Foodwise, we normally buy the basics (bread, milk, etc) together, but for the rest we are on our own. We have found that the money we receive from ADRA covers the cost of food generously and we often have a bit left over for the odd bit of recreation which is good.

This year has been challenging and rewarding. The country is breathtaking, the people exceptional, and the opportunities endless.

Tamsin Vine is from Watford, England

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