Kokoda Challenge Youth Program
self-discovery program enhancing resilience, confidence and gratitude in young people
The Kokoda Challenge Youth Program is our original life skills program for 14-16 year olds, affectionately known as our ‘Kokoda Kids’.
KCYP is built around our core values of Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice, while being focused on training for the 96km Kokoda Challenge, a peak hiking experience and 3 months of community service. This helps set healthy boundaries and structure for the kids to take throughout their lives.
Throughout the program, kids are challenged and mentored by volunteer leaders through weekly endurance hikes and volunteer community service to learn the skills that build personal strength and resilience to help overcome adversity and succeed.
Kokoda Kids come from all walks of life and every segment of society which is an essential and purposeful piece of the transformative experience.
The ‘butchers, bakers and candlestick makers’ is a concept taken from the Army where a battalion is made up of soldiers who are completely different to each other, yet it is essential for them to work and learn together, and balance each other with different strengths and weaknesses to survive.
KCYP is a program available to all young people who are seeking direction and motivation to succeed. They may also be looking to make new friends, looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or simply looking to really challenge themselves
Here at the Kokoda Youth Foundation, we passionately believe there is no difference between those who are expected to fail and those who are expected to achieve – except for opportunity and the right support.
Applications for the 2023 KCYP are now closed, please register your interest for the 2024 program.
Experiential Youth Program for Aussie KIDS
The KCYP is a 9 month program that involves the kids taking on weekly training sessions across the first 6 months including the 96km Kokoda Challenge Event which is a transformative experience in itself. After completing the event, kids prepare for a major trekking peak experience designed to challenge and change participants – both physically and mentally.
The peak experience is followed by 3 months of fortnightly volunteer service to give back to their own local communities. The program requires the kids’ full commitment and dedication and they will be rewarded with a life changing outcome and setup for adult life.
Woven through the program is the history of the Kokoda Campaign of WWII and draws on inspiration from our Australian Diggers who faced insurmountable odds and achieved what no one thought was possible. All young people in the KCYP are mentored in harnessing the same qualities displayed by the Australian soldiers: Courage, Endurance, Sacrifice and Mateship, otherwise known as Kokoda Spirit.
Of A Lifetime
Traditionally KCYP’s peak experience has been hiking the real Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea but now our ‘Kokoda Kids’ will venture to Malaysia to embark on the Sandakan Memorial March.
Their peak experience will be a 10 day trip learning about the atrocities that occured in this area during WWII where many Australian and British soldiers were held as prisoners of war. First up, the Kokoda Kids will venture to an Orangutan rehabilitation centre where around 60 to 80 orangutans are living independently in the reserve and approximately 25 orphaned orangutans are housed in the nurseries.
Next, the KCYP will embark on the 61 kilometre trek, which will start from the Sandakan Prisoner of War Memorial and end at the Kundasang War Memorial, passing many local villages and scenic landscapes along the way.
After the trek, the crew will go white water rafting down the stunning Kiulu River before visiting Labuan War Graves on the final day.
This is a home grown experience that will honour our Kokoda diggers, be culturally and historically significant and offer a truly unique adventure. While on the trip, the Kokoda Kids and leaders alike will be pushed to their physical and mental boundaries, achieving things they may have never thought possible!
Each and every day entails different challenges and experiences, meaning all kids will have to work effectively with their team to achieve their common goal. Throughout the experience, many skills will be learnt that the kids are encouraged to take home and apply to their everyday life. This experience leaves our Kokoda Kids feeling as if they have achieved the almost impossible. Many say that after their peak KCYP experience, their perspective on life and way of approaching different challenges is changed.
It is not only the peak experience that leaves our Kokoda Kids with a new perspective, but it is also the skills and mindset they achieve through participating in the 9-month program itself. Our Kokoda Kids graduate the KCYP knowing the meaning and importance of the four pillars of Kokoda: Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice.
Commitment To Succeed
KCYP’s major point of difference to other youth programs is it’s long-term. The 9 month commitment from April to January includes physical training and mentoring in preparation for three peak experiences – the 96km Kokoda Challenge in July, the 10 day Sandakan Memorial March in Malaysia. Plus in the final phase of the program, the kids have the peak experience of community service, which many find the most rewarding aspect of their time as it provides them with career guidance and community connections.
This trek will be a physical, mental and historical experience of a lifetime and is followed by a further 3 month period of community service to learn the value of giving back. KCYP participants will graduate in January of 2023, provided they meet the commitments of the program which are designed to ensure personal discovery and fulfillment.
The extended time frame of the KCYP allows for opportunities for all participants to learn, make informed choices, form lifelong bonds, develop community connections and truly flourish.
We Need Your Help
At the Kokoda Youth Foundation, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential! Therefore, the KCYP is an all-expenses paid program aimed at providing today’s youth with a life changing experience. From entry into the Kokoda Challenge events, to the 10-day Sandakan Memorial March, our Kokoda Kids, leaders and families are ensured that this program does not does not put any added costs outside of purchasing their own hiking boots – which will take them on many adventures for years to come, we are sure!
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. KCYP is run solely from donations from generous Australians, just like you.
What to expect
MAKE LIFE LONG FRIENDSHIP BONDS
Meet like minded people with similar interests and values.
EXPERIENCING HISTORY AND CULTURE
A fully funded 10 day adventure in Malaysia that will see you trekking the Sandakan Memorial March, visiting an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and going white water rafting .
DOING WHAT YOU THOUGHT WAS IMPOSSIBLE
20 weeks of Sunday bushwalks, mid-week training sessions, two-day overnight camp and participation in the 96km Kokoda Challenge.
TIME AWAY FROM TECHNOLOGY
Enjoy the great outdoors without feeling the pressure to document every second on your devices! We encourage our Kokoda Kids to take time away from their phones and enjoy every moment.
GAIN NEW SKILLS AND LEARN HISTORY
Learn more about navigation and the environment around you! You will also gain a deeper understanding of the history of the Kokoda Campaign.
GIVING BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY
3 months of fortnightly community service to learn the value of community, the true meaning of sacrifice and a chance to give back.
DISCOVER YOUR FULL POTENTIAL
Discovering a sense of purpose, forming life skills of responsibility and reliability, developing confidence and learning that you are capable of extraordinary things.