TZANEEN: Taking on adulthood as a true warrior

Warriors students enjoying their time on the program. Photo supplied.

The Warriors Academy proudly handed over gifts to their graduating students recently. Fifteen young adults were honoured for completing their various programs.

The Warriors Academy has been in existence for 15 years and was founded by Rudi and Rene Viljoen after they decided to put a lifelong passion of nurturing and shaping the future for young adults into a structured course setup.

Their daughter and Operations Manager of the program, Rowena Viljoen, told the LETABA HERALD, “My Father in particular has always had a huge passion for the youth. We always took adventurous holidays when we were younger, hiking, skiing and often we would have a young person join us who was perhaps struggling in some way.”

Photo supplied.

Thus the Warriors Academy was born and offers a gap year opportunity to young persons from all over the world. Most of the participants are those who have just finished their schooling and at the age of 18 or 19 are not quite sure which path to take in terms of their future.

As young people reach this crucial transitional stage in their lives, the Warriors program aims to enhance their personal, environmental and social awareness in order to equip them with the skills they will need to progress and thrive in the very real world of adulthood.

The Warriors offers a safe environment full of adventure for such young persons to work on their personal growth and gain the ever important buzz words in modern day professional work places, ‘life skills’.

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The Warriors gap year course will provide students with buckets full of life skills, from learning to share the same space as their peers for an extended period of time, to learning to cook, to tackling a vast array of physical challenges and overcoming fears, whilst constantly working on their emotional fitness. Having completed the Warriors course, the students will certainly stand head and shoulders above other applicants as they make their applications to higher education facilities or potential employers.

“We guide them to think about how they are going to handle certain situations they may face. We get them thinking about how to be, who to be,” says Rowena.

The year-long course is split into four quests, or terms, which encompass a flagship activity in each. The first quest includes a 10-day cycle safari covering almost 500 km which takes the students from Tzaneen, past the Eiland and onto Hoedspruit and then back round to Tzaneen, via Ofcolaco. The students must work as a team to complete the physical challenge, learning quickly that they are only as quick as their slowest team member and that offering assistance to those struggling will take the team the distance.

Photo supplied.

The second quest includes a trip to Mozambique where the youngsters learn to scuba dive. Quest number three takes the young warriors on a sailing trip in Durban whilst the final quest is a three-week trip to Cape Town and includes survival components.

During Friday’s graduation ceremony, six young warriors were commended for having completed all four quests whilst two were awarded for completing one quest, two for completing two quests and one person for finishing three quests.

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Additionally, four young adults were awarded for having completed the Multi Activity Instructors (MAI) program. Here, those who have completed the initial one-year course can apply to take on the MAI program. With outdoor pursuits instructors being in short supply on a global level, this internationally recognised course has been put together to equip students with a variety of skills to become adventure guides.

Although the courses delivered may not pave the exact path for each student to take, it certainly gives them time to think about who they want to be, what they want to achieve and equips them some solid building blocks to start paving their own future.

Rowena remarks the success stories they have seen, “We sometimes get students that have not completed their schooling for one reason or another. Upon completing the Warriors course, they have all gone back to complete their school studies.”

Part of the program focuses on social awareness and thus the students gets hands-on with a variety of community services including assisting at the Letaba SPCA, where they lend a hand by cleaning the kennels and cages. In addition, the Warriors program supports old age homes and a crèche in Lenyenye. Warrios staff members are also members of the local Rotary Club.

  AUTHOR
Beth Coetzee
Journalist

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