From the Principal
THE KOKODA CHALLENGE - AN EXERCISE IN CULTURAL ALIGNMENT
St Andrews is readily identified within and well beyond the College community for our annual commitment to and performance in the Kokoda Challenge. The Kokoda Challenge raises funds for school-aged children who participate in Youth Programs run by the Kokoda Youth Foundation. It provides experiential programs that engage and inspire young Australians to reach their full potential.
Involvement in the Program and the Challenge itself is based on the four cornerstones of the Kokoda Campaign in WW2 – Mateship, Courage, Endurance, Sacrifice. 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.
St Andrews Lutheran College committed to this event since 2007 and has been there ever since. There are four major school-based events – Brisbane 30K and 48K, and Gold Coast 48K and 96K. Teams comprise four students (from our Senior School) and an adult leader. Over the years, we have repeatedly won many of these “races” and hold most of the course records. Even though there are teams of 5, at St Andrews that represents teams within a bigger team. This year it was a team of 64 students and 16 leaders, 80 of us with a shared purpose. Special mention also to our Support Crews who sit in the cold to embrace us and re-fuel us in our scamper to get back on the trail.
Our ‘Program’ is held in high regard in the broader community and is something we are rightly proud of. The students (and indeed the staff) put a lot in, and they get a lot back, irrespective of whether their team finishes amongst the elite. At our annual training camp, we speak in turn about ‘why’ we are doing it. For some it is to stretch themselves physically and mentally, for others it is camaraderie, for others related to family links to battles like Kokoda, and for others simply to show themselves, others and family ‘what they’ve got’.
As is almost invariably the case, this year the aspect that we are most proud of us is that 64 students started in events, and 64 students completed events – that’s the spirit and is clear testimony to the commitment and quality of preparation. We compete to complete! The Challenge is physically brutal and mentally taxing. It helps us learn about ourselves and fosters deeper compassion for others. It honours our forebears and unearths tomorrow’s leaders. It matters. That is the Kokoda Challenge and that is St Andrews.
As an aside, you may be interested to know a precis of our 2021 results – in the Brisbane 30k we had five teams, all finishing in the top 15, including first and third (which was also the first all female team). In the GC 48, with nearly 200 school teams in total, we had 10 teams, with 6 of those finishing thirteenth or better, including first, second, fourth, sixth, and ninth – phenomenal really. In the GC96, our team, none with prior experience, finished 4th and in under 20 hours.
The SALC Kokoda Program certainly encompasses Mateship, Courage, Endurance, Sacrifice.
It is worth the pain, though I think it’s time to hang up my trail shoes!
Peace and Grace