Antarctic Heritage Trust, in partnership with the William Pike Challenge, hosted the inaugural Young Inspiring Explorers™ Summit in Christchurch, New Zealand’s gateway to Antarctica, over the weekend of 21-22 September 2019.
The Year 7-9 students spent the weekend with the Trust and Kiwi explorer William Pike, who lost his leg in the 2007 Mt Ruapehu eruption.
Twenty young explorers from diverse communities across New Zealand saw penguins up close at the International Antarctic Centre, where they also got to ride in a Hagglund, the all-terrain, amphibious Antarctic vehicle used to transport people and equipment on the Ice. They camped out overnight, working collaboratively to set up their own tents. After dark they were challenged to complete “The Worst Journey in the World”, a blind trail through a natural obstacle course of trees and bushes. They worked with huskies at Husky Rescue NZ, walking the dogs on the exercise course and learning all about the role of these important animals in Antarctic history. At Canterbury Museum, the young explorers were inspired by the legacies of historic Antarctic explorers including Scott, Shackleton and Hillary, whose legacies the Trust cares for, and learnt about the first people to spend a winter in Antarctica by visiting the Breaking the Ice exhibition.
The Trust’s Executive Director Nigel Watson says the Trust aims to grow and empower the Shackletons and Hillarys of the future—young people who would draw on inspiration from the great Antarctic explorers of the past to drive positive change and instigate new perspectives to meet the challenges of our changing world.
“Underpinning our Inspiring Explorers™ programme is a commitment from participants to being open-minded and curious about the world we live in, being prepared to step out of their comfort zones, encouraging positive risk taking, and sharing their often life-changing experiences.”
William Pike says it was incredible to give Kiwi kids an opportunity to learn more about the history of Antarctica, its wildlife, science and importance to the world today.
He says all young people deserve a future where they succeed in life, no matter what unexpected challenges and obstacles come their way.
“To be prepared for what life throws at us, we need a bank of experiences under our belt, and that’s what the Summit is all about,” Pike says, “it’s given a lot of these youngsters a big step in confidence, a whole lot of communication skills have been developed over the weekend, as well as problem-solving skills, critical thinking and leadership—21st century life skills that are so essential to these kids today”.
The young explorers documented their journey, and shared what they learnt with their communities when they returned home.
Many of the young explorers have commented that the experience broadened their knowledge about the polar regions, encouraged them to learn more, and tested their resilience.
Having completed the Summit, the students have become members of the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Alumni Programme, which includes Inspiring Explorers like William Pike, Brando Yelavich and many others.
The Summit was run in partnership with Christchurch NZ, The Antarctic Office and the International Antarctic Centre, with support from Husky Rescue NZ, Canterbury Museum and Antarctica New Zealand.