Silver Valley Leadership Challenge

Posted on January 19, 2017 · Posted in Uncategorized

City of Kwinana – Silver Valley Leadership Challenge participants

Recently we took a full bus load of Kwinana young people out to a farm setting called “Silver Valley” in Karrakup to learn about leadership, team building and to challenge them both individually and in team settings.

Yep, the day started off well – I managed to score myself some coffee and breakfast, so all was good. We had a small number of last minute cancellations but was able to rectify this reasonably quickly with a quick phone around to get our wait listed participants on board. Soon after, we were on away traveling through the back roads through Kwinana over to the South West highway with many a paddock passed and a different look at Kwinana.

After a short 35 minute journey, we arrived at Silver Valley set on a wide sweeping valley with tall trees, a large shed and makeshift cabin as a conference room. We were greeted by Mal, Simon and Jacquie our group facilitators for the days activities and following a short round of ice breakers, the group was split into 2 groups – the ‘folders’ and the ‘scrunchers’ (think about how you use toilet paper). Each group underwent their first group challenge called ‘helium stick’ and they thought this was going to be such an easy and simple task to complete however, being school holidays and this early in the morning they can be forgiven for not succeeding to lower their stick to the ground in the give time frame. The groups were then moved off to the conference room for a quick introduction to leadership and the foundation principles of leadership.

The helium stick

After a break for morning tea, the entire group was split into groups of three where they were sent out with each of the group facilitators to a series of three separate practical team building and leadership challenges: the ‘time machine’, the ‘calculator’ and ‘rescue the black tailed cockatoo’. With 20 minutes to spend on each challenge each group experienced their share of ups and downs, frustrations and brain fade moments but equally we could see some leadership qualities start to emerge at this stage. Following these activities Mal directed us back to the shed for lunch where we began to debrief our experiences thus far, how the activities challenged us and how the activities related back to the key principles he’d discussed back in the conference room earlier that morning:

  • How important effective communication is when leading group situations,
  • Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture,
  • Gathering as much information as possible,
  • Clear and thorough planning, and
  • Decision making where the group agrees to the direction.

After lunch, we headed back out into the valley, this time for a hike up a small hill to the low ropes course. The challenge that was set was for all of us (24) to get across the entire low ropes course. I don’t know whether this was the after lunch slump or what but it’s safe to say that this wasn’t successfully achieved either. Although, in our defence we did come very close to getting us all across in the given  time frame. I feel the biggest learning of the day was had on this particular activity. You could see a clear shift in the young people’s thinking, where at first, many individuals were trying to get across the course as quickly as possible all by themselves to then realising the benefits of  working as a team and that the more they garnered trust and respect in each others and thought less of themselves the more people were able to get across the low ropes. A lot of laughing and fun was had on this one :).

The day was drawing to an end and a lot of hype had been created about the ‘Leap of faith’ and the ‘zip line’ and it was now time to harness up for the vertical challenge of the leap of faith. This activity, appearing to be a solo one; pitting you against the thoughts inside your head. This challenged your fear of heights where you had to climb up a 10m tree trunk that sways more the higher you climb, stand up on a narrow platform at the top, balance and compose yourself before launching yourself, arms outstretched reaching for a trapeeze bar hovering somewhere overhead hoping that the harness and ropes will support you if you miss! We got some great shots of people challenging their fears, pushing past their psychological barriers and achieving an awesome outcome. Yeah, there were people who were never going to have a go on this one but one person who was a definite “NO” (with an already established fear of heights) ended up putting on a harness and then to our surprise ended up making it a third of the way up the tree trunk! A far cry from I’m never doing that! There was an awesome display of camaraderie and encouragement which was amazing to witness. One particular young person loved it so much that the valley echoed with her joyous screams:

“This is soooooo LITTTTT!!!!….Yeah!… This…is sooooo Lit!!!”

Leap of faith

We were all on such a high and I was thrown down the challenge to have a go as well. Having been busy trying to capture photo’s I hadn’t given it much thought. Next thing you know, I’m all harnessed up and moving quickly up the tree trunk like a monkey! Soon as I reached the top, the young people had already begun my countdown for me to jump for the trapeeze bar (thanks team!)

5!….4!….3!…2!…(quick gulp)….1!!!…

I heard a supportive roar and was happy to say I’d managed to make the jump successfully and before being let down by the supporting ropes had a quick ‘dab’ in celebration.

We happily headed off to our final activity; the 344 metre long zip line (which was the longest in the southern hemisphere up until about 4 years ago Mal tells me). Again, another seemingly individual challenge where you harness up, and strap on a helmet before making your way hurtling along at speed from one side of the valley to the other. *Don’t forget to reach for the short red rope ringing in your ears (as this was your only way of making sure you can get your feet safely back on solid ground!). We all achieved this one and its was a great way to end the day and really take in the beautiful natural surroundings.

344 metre zip line

We were all pretty exhausted from the days activities as we headed back to the big shed for a group debrief from the facilitators and to refill our water bottles. During the day we had burnt off a heap of calories, sweated profusely, streamed tears, posed for photo’s, laughed, shouted (and a bit of swearing) and spent hours away from our technology but most importantly – we challenged ourselves. Needless to say, it was probably the one of the quietest trips back into Kwinana and the young people showed their respect by thanking our staff as they alighted from the bus. That was pretty cool too.

Author: Arbie Pattiselanno

Check out the photo gallery here