Hello there, my name is Jared and I’m a Kokoda Kid. 

My journey with Kokoda didn’t begin with the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program, it actually began by completing the 48 Brisbane and Gold Coast Kokoda Challenges, where I needed to raise funds for the KCYP with my school team.  

Although I was raising funds for the Kokoda Kids, I still didn’t quite understand what I was raising funds for. Until a member of the foundation came to my school and delivered a very riveting presentation on the program. Explaining that this program was a “life changing experience, giving you the tools to tackle anything life throws at you”. Although, that sounded nice. I was 15 and very naïve and only really saw the physical side to the program and the trip to Papua New Guinea to walk the Kokoda Track.  

With that naivety I applied and was accepted into the Logan 2019 Kokoda Kids team and began my journey. Naturally I am very quiet and shy, so a group of 14 brand new people was already very outside my comfort zone.  

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We trained every Wednesday afternoon at Kangaroo Point Headland for a personal training session, and through Mount Coo-Tha every Sunday. If you ask any of the Logan team, we don’t really remember any of the physical or mental strain we endured, but all the elation we felt from completing a hill, or the weird and wacky conversations we had while walking. We do however remember and continuously get reminded by our parents of the 5:30am meet ups at eight-mile plains McDonald’s. That was always fun to see how everyone was feeling that early in the morning. 

Fast forward 2 months, we are standing at the start line of the 96km Kokoda Challenge event. Fit, united and raring to go, the Logan team set off on the most challenging endurance event in Australia. We had our challenges along the way both as a team and individually, but completed the 96km event in 33 hours and 10 minutes. The FASTEST Logan Kokoda Kids team ever!!! Yes, it isn’t about how fast you complete it in, but the journey you go on during the event. But you always have to take the title of the fastest team of the region you’re representing.  

Once the challenge was completed, we exchanged our small camelbacks for 60L hiking packs and began training for Papua New Guinea. 

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In short, Papua New Guinea was the greatest experience of my life. Battling the steep terrain through the wet slippery mud of PNG. Yes, it rained for 3 days straight while we were walking. Although, as miserable as it got at times, it was always fun watching your best friends fall over into thick mud 

PNG taught me so much about myself, taught me so much about my team. The experience brought us so close to each other, that we went from a team of teenagers to a family. Taught us so much that even when times get tough, you need to stick with your family in order to push through. Getting to Isurava and performing a dawn service at the memorial site was such a surreal and emotional experience. Just one week before we left, I found out my Great uncle served in the 53rd Battalion at the battle of Isurava and Deniki. But our team stuck together, helped each other delve deeper into the four pillars “Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice” and we completed the Kokoda Track 

2019 Kokoda Kids walking through PNG Kokoda Track
2019 Kokoda Kids walking through PNG Kokoda Track
2019 Kokoda Kids walking through PNG Kokoda Track

Coming home, the program still wasn’t complete. We had 8 months that ended up being 12 months of community service still to complete. The community gave so much to us throughout our journey, that it was our turn to return the favour and help the community however we could. Volunteering our time to help the people that helped us. 

On the 17th of October we graduated from the program, and we had succeeded. Everything we were promised about the program, was nowhere near what I got out of it. I received an extended family, people I can forever lean on for anything. I learnt the meaning of “Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice” and now live by them every day. I learnt how to lend a hand to people not as fortunate as myself. 

2019 Kokoda Kids at Graduation Boys and Girls

The Kokoda Youth Foundation gave me so much, I couldn’t just leave it behind. Once I graduated high school, I found the Certificate IV in Outdoor Leadership, and once completed asked to work for them out at Camp Kokoda as one of their full time instructors.  

Past Kokoda Kid Jarod at Kokoda Park with school camp kids

If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’d still be the shy nervous 15-year-old who only understood how to be a high level athlete, and not a genuine member of society.  

Kokoda Kids for Life!!!! 


Hear what else Jared and other 2019 Kokoda Kids had to say about their experience!