Kokoda Youth Foundation

Who we are

How Kokoda Youth Foundation Began...

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2004

Established in 2004 by Doug Henderson and his wife Anna, The Kokoda Youth Foundation (KYF) is a locally operated charity that has proudly supported Australian young people in the local communities.
Doug served as a Medic in the Vietnam War and was invited to attend an RSL conference where he saw a guest Kokoda veteran who spoke about the Kokoda Campaign in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Campaign during WWII. Previously not knowing much about the Story of Kokoda and what happened there, Doug made it his goal to help educate and spread awareness of the 1942 Kokoda Campaign to his fellow Australians.
At the same time, Doug was becoming increasingly aware of the rise of troubled young people in Australia. He saw the connection that he could help encourage Australian kids using the Story of Kokoda as it teaches courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice.

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2005

Doug wanted to take 12 young people over to Papua New Guinea to endure hiking the 96km Kokoda Track as he believed it would be a truly life changing and transformative experience. For a lot of the kids, it would be their first time traveling out of Australia too.
So they could make it through the incredibly challenging Kokoda Track, these young people would have to dedicate themselves to training together every week, and so the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program was born. After this peak trekking experience, the ‘Kokoda Kids’ would then complete three months of volunteering in their local communities, instilling in them connections and a giving attitude that would help them into the future.

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2007

The first year of the Stan Bisset Cup which is awarded to the fastest 96km Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge school team. This award is named after Australian rugby union player and Kokoda Veteran, Stan Bisset, who served in the 2/14th Battalion.

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2008

The Kokoda Challenge Youth Program (KCYP) expanded from just one Gold Coast program to a KCYP in both Brisbane and Canberra as well. This meant that the Kokoda Challenge endurance event had to be bigger than ever to fund the two new programs!

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2009

In order to reach more people and make the Story of Kokoda accessible to even more people, the Kokoda Challenge introduced the 48km event to run alongside the 96km event on the Gold Coast. This saw a huge increase in the number of participants and was able to raise even more funds for the Kokoda Youth Foundation.

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2010

The Kokoda Challenge event was held in Melbourne for the first time, meaning next year the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program would be able to help local Melbourne communities and young people. This was also the year that a Kokoda Kid with vision impairment from the Gold Coast KCYP completed the local 96km event which was a true inspiration for everyone involved.

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2011

Although the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program had been running in Brisbane for three years, this was the first year the Kokoda Challenge had been held in Brisbane to raise funds for the local branch of KCYP.
There were now six branches of the KCYP - Tweed Coast, Gold Coast, Logan, Brisbane, Canberra and for the first time, Melbourne!

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2012

This year saw the birth of Camp Kokoda, an outdoor education facility in Maroon, QLD which hosts school and holiday camps where kids engage in adventure based activities designed to build teamwork and push them out of their comfort zone.
This was also the first year to see the new youth program, On The Right Track which is aimed at helping disengaged young people stay in the education system.

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2013

This year the Kokoda Youth Foundation held an endurance event of a different kind! Kokoda Grunt was a mud and obstacle course held at Camp Kokoda which involved conquering a variety of moad-soaked to physically challenge teams.

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2014 Isurava (2)

2014

This year was the first Kokoda Challenge event in Toowoomba! It was also the year we received government funding to run the Isurava Youth Program. This was a pilot program that ran for two years that was aimed at crime prevention in youth.

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2016

This year saw a record-breaking number of entries in the Kokoda Challenge endurance events with over 1300 competitors  participating in the 96km events alone! This meant even more reach for the Story of Kokoda and even more local young people could be impacted through our youth programs!

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2020

This was the first year ever that we were unable to run the Kokoda Challenge events due to the Covid 19 pandemic. However, we were able to hold the Kokoda Virtual Challenge where competitors tracked walks around their neighbourhood online and still raised money through donations for the Kokoda Youth Foundation.

The pandemic didn’t slow us down and we created the Kokoda Pathways Program aimed at reducing the chance of young people falling into systemic unemployment. We also opened a new outdoor education facility, Kokoda Park, in the foothills of Mount Beau Brummell, QLD.

Spreading Awareness Of The Kokoda Campaign

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Kokoda Youth Foundation’s goal is not only to help kids in our local community, but also to honour the Australian soldiers that fought for our freedom in Papua New Guinea during WWII and to spread awareness to more Australians about this story and legacy.

The heroic defense of Australia against imminent invasion and the spirit of our young soldiers demonstrates that when we work together, look out for each other, and show commitment to a task, things that at first seem impossible, suddenly become achievable.

The Spirit of Kokoda instills the values of Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice into the community of today. These timeless Kokoda values still have a profound impact on our ‘Kokoda Kids’ and we believe they are the basis of a strong and flourishing community.

The Kokoda Values
COURAGE

To step outside your comfort zone and stand up for what's important.

ENDURANCE

To stay the course, commit to the journey, and never give up.

MATESHIP

To act with integrity, embrace diversity and have each other's back.

SACRIFICE

To serve a cause greater than yourself.

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KIDS WE'VE HELPED
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VOLUNTEERS THIS YEAR
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DONATIONS RECEIVED
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The Kokoda Challenge Charity Events

The Spirit of Kokoda demonstrates that when we work together, look out for each other, and show commitment to a task, things that at first seem impossible suddenly become achievable.

In order to fund this youth program, Doug and his wife held the first Kokoda Challenge event in 2005.

The 96 kilometre endurance event gave teams 39 hours to complete over 4,000 metres of elevation through the Gold Coast Hinterland, quickly earning it the title of Australia’s toughest team endurance event.
Initially held solely on the Gold Coast, each team raised money through fundraising efforts that would then fund the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program. The Kokoda Youth Foundation has now grown from this single youth program and event to a range of youth programs, events and camps around Australia.

These annual endurance hiking and trail running events have been held for the last 17 years including a Kokoda Virtual Challenge during the pandemic of 2020, raising funds to help put our ‘Kokoda Kids’ through any of our four youth programs.

Kokoda Outdoor Education

In 2012, The Kokoda Youth Foundation opened Camp Kokoda, an outdoor education facility in Maroon, QLD which hosts school and holiday camps where kids engage in adventure based activities designed to build teamwork and push them out of their comfort zone.

Incorporating onsite activities, and expedition experiences away from the distractions of technology and modern conveniences, each program at Camp Kokoda is designed to be fun and meaningful.

In 2020 we also opened a new outdoor education facility, Kokoda Park, in the foothills of Mount Beau Brummell, QLD.

Sitting on 160 acres of amazing bushland, Kokoda Park provides first class outdoor activities such as rock climbing wall, high ropes and flying fox. By providing exposure to thrilling, challenging and thoughtful activities, Kokoda Park camps allow students to grow and develop skills through situations they wouldn’t find in a classroom.

Woven throughout our outdoor education facilities is the timeless ideology of Kokoda Spirit –Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice– and the life-enhancing values derived from the stories of the Kokoda Track in World War II.

These two outdoor education facilities help us fund our youth programs and also provide the perfect locations for hosting components of our experiential programs.

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We need Your Help

Over the last 17 years, the Kokoda Youth Foundation has proudly supported more than 621 teenagers through our youth programs. We have seen huge life transformations, not just in the form of physical fitness but in the kids’ mental health, community contributions, sense of purpose, and social connections.

Our experiential youth programs help young people gain physical and mental resilience, confidence, and instill in them Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice.

Everything we do is for the good of the kids and we would love for you to join us in making a difference in young lives through the Spirit of Kokoda. These programs are run solely from donations from generous Australians, just like you.

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