Monday, March 7, 2011

Outdoor Inspiration

Here’s another great leadership initiative downunder that Sir Ed put his stamp on. The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) of New Zealand inspires young people by giving them a taste of adventure. In a world where screenagers are seldom separated from their mobile phones and the couch and TV has a stronger pull than gravity, OPC is a blast of fresh air.

The Centre runs courses in white-water kayaking, rock-climbing, mountaineering, sailing, sea-kayaking, and other high energy outdoor pursuits, helping to grow potential by taking young people from all walks of life out of their comfort zones. And by putting individuals in a setting where everyone has to work together for success, OPC builds team players and team leaders.

In a few months, OPC will host the 11th annual Hillary Challenge – a five-day competition to identify the top Secondary School Outdoor Adventure Team in New Zealand. The challenge is held at OPC’s facility in the shadow of Mt. Tongariro in the centre of the North Island, a wild place that’s hard to beat when you’re looking for adventure. It requires teams to operate under physical and mental stress as they take on a series of intensive exercises, including a two-day wilderness expedition and a multisport race on the final day. OPC’s mission is to make this defining experience a must for as many young people as it can.

Great preparation for life. Nothing is impossible is a mantra we live by at Saatchi & Saatchi and a spirit epitomized by Sir Ed. My daughter Bex worked with Graham Seatter, OPC’s CEO, and I’m glad to confirm our charity, The Red Rose Trust, will be sponsoring a bunch of kids to participate at OPC over the next three years. Viva adventure!