We asked some of our 2022 Kokoda Challenge Youth Program graduates what they thought was their biggest takeaway from completing the program!

Here’s what they had to say ↓

India  My biggest takeaway that I got from the program was a newfound passion for hiking and a connection to people who are some of my best friends, I joined this program to have something to look forward to after I had experienced a major loss and hardship, this program gave me stability, a healthy outlet and people I could talk to and lean on when I felt that I couldn’t go on, it has been one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and amazing experiences I’ve ever done and I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity in the first place.

Josh My takeaway is that life is hard and challenging, much like the 96kms, but if you push through until you see the sun rise up the next morning, you’ll have the courage and endurance to achieve anything that life throws in your path.


Flynn –I think that my biggest takeaway was learning how to work with and help people especially in more emotional or stressful situations. There were a couple of times throughout the Cairns trip, one being the day the donkeys fled. I tried to stay calm and focus on helping others. This is a skill that will be used all throughout life in different situations.  

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Ryan –What I have learnt is that it’s not all about the destination rather it’s about the journey and who you are with.  I learnt this through the training walks earlier on as I grew to understand the true meaning of endurance and found that the best way to enjoy the hikes was to live in the moment and enjoy the people around me, forming great friendships – true mateship.  These lessons will help me be patient and be able to endure anything and to enjoy the process, not just the end result. 

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 Kiana – Last year was a time of growth and self-awareness for me. I discovered most of these lessons during the challenging Kokoda experience. Fortunately, we had plenty of time to reflect and think. One thing that greatly aided me was the weekly question, a small prompt that made me think and push myself further. It’s like breaking down a big goal into smaller steps, like climbing a staircase. We started with 12km, then 14km, 30km, 54km, and finally 96km. It didn’t feel as overwhelming when we were told we had 24 weeks to achieve 96km. I believe this skill can be applied to any goal and help me tackle it.

Another valuable lesson I learned from the program is the importance of self-awareness. It’s about recognising when to seek support and when to rely on myself. Finding the balance can be challenging for me. There were moments when I felt overwhelmed, when I didn’t want to continue, or when I needed a distraction from hiking. But knowing that I could trust my parents to take care of me during the pit stops was so important.

KCYP also taught me to have more empathy. We all experienced difficult moments, and we realised that someone else might be going through something even harder. Listening to how others cope in tough situations, whether they prefer distractions or focusing on the immediate challenges ahead, was eye-opening. It revealed both our limitations and our strengths. Personally, I appreciate these insights and use them to make better choices. Often, we are so focused on getting through tough times or simply relieved when the struggle is over that we forget to see the challenges as opportunities for growth.

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