Dee Why RSL Club is a strong supporter of the Kokoda Youth Leadership challenge

Dee Why RSL Club is a strong supporter of the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge, which is funded by the Club’s Community Support Program and organised by the RSL & Services Clubs Association. The Program sends two specially selected employees on an arduous 10 day, 146km trek across the original Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, to experience and foster courage, mateship, endurance and leadership, and to gain practical leadership experience based on the achievements and sacrifice of our diggers during the Kokoda campaign.

This year Club Customer Relations Manager, Michael Wright and Gaming Supervisor, Ben Fenley were selected for the Challenge.

What inspired you to apply to go?

Michael: I wanted to gain a greater appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who went before us. I also wanted to take the opportunity to physically and mentally challenge myself, so that I could grow as a person.

Ben: I was inspired to represent and honour those who fought for our freedom on the Kokoda track, as well as all others, such as my grandfather who served and fought while in the Navy. I was also very eager to mentally, physically and emotionally put myself to the test.

What was the hardest part of the experience for you?

Michael: The accumulative toll that the trek took on my body and mind as the days progressed. That – and quitting smoking before I went.

Ben: I expected the hardest part to be the physical side of the track beforehand. Although the mental and emotional toll due to the extreme weather and the stories of what happened in 1942 to men either the same age as myself or younger, stacked heavily on to what was already physically demanding enough.

How do you think that the experience has had an impact on you? 

Michael: It has helped me grow as a person, and to learn to focus on what actually matters in my life and discard the insignificant. It has also instilled in me a greater sense of community.

Ben: I have gained a great deal of perspective from the experience on how lucky we are to be born into a country with so many opportunities. It has shaped me into a better man and the way I embrace my life in the hope that those who gave everything for me, would be proud of what I have and hope to achieve.