Gympie student sets sail on life-changing adventure
SAILING from Brisbane to Mackay with a bunch of strangers wasn't the first item on Gympie Year 11 student Jacinta Olsen's school holiday agenda, but she found herself at sea aboard the STS Young Endeavour before she could think twice.
The 16-year-old admitted she "didn't have any interest in sailing” when she applied for the voyage, but her mother's persistence and encouragement led her to take the opportunity with both hands.
"We were driving down to Brisbane in the middle weekend of the holidays and I wasn't really sure what I was in for at the time,” the James Nash State High School student said.
"When we got there it looked like this pirate ship on the water, and with all these strangers out on this boat I didn't really know what to think.
"On the first night we were climbing the full mast and it was freezing, but we were looking down the Brisbane River and the view was just amazing.
"The next morning we took up the anchor and off we went, up the Brisbane River and past Moreton Bay.
"Halfway through the voyage I thought it wouldn't be that amazing, and then about two days later we realised how life-changing it was.”
The Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, described as providing young Australians with "a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea” to boost "self-awareness, teamwork, leadership skills and ... community responsibility”, sets sail on about 20 voyages each year.
Since returning from her journey, Ms Olsen said she had formed a special bond with her 22 fellow "youthies” from all over the country and beyond.
"The vibe on the boat was amazing, it was just like a big family out there,” she said.
"There was a girl from St Pat's and another from Noosa, I didn't know them before but we're friends now.
"It was one of the best things we'll look back on in our lives, some of the people there had top university degrees and they still said it was the best thing they'd done.
"We've got a group chat and it's going off all the time.”
Ms Olsen said the journey had also inspired her to take on new opportunities, such as joining the army cadets.
She said she "absolutely” recommended Gympie youths aged between 16 and 23 to apply for future Youth Endeavour voyages.
People interested in a Young Endeavour adventure can apply online at www.youngendeavour.gov.au.