"The best ten days of my life so far happened on the Spirit of Adventure. I boarded the ship knowing no-one or absolutely anything about sailing, but left with life long friends and an experience of a lifetime. The Spirit of Adventure for me was a way of leaving all my worries of exams and school behind and to sail from Napier, up the east cape and back to Auckland. The moments I got to experience were amazing, lying on the bow sprit with dolphins jumping in the waves underneath you, looking up at the starry night sky while sitting around a campfire with the other trainees and sailing into Auckland at sunset while at the top of the highest sail on the ship.
The life skills acquired from 10 days at sea with random people from all over New Zealand are amazing. I came home with great self confidence, communication skills and self belief I didn't think I had. The goals I had set when signing up for the trip have definitely been fulfilled. These goals were to give everything a go, have a great time and to come home with a huge grin.
"Best ten days of my life so far."
UPDATE: March 2019 (5 years later)
I’m currently studying in my third year of an electrical and electronics engineering degree at the university of Canterbury! I spent my last summer working as an intern at a lighting company in Christchurch!
What Karen did for me was give me an opportunity which I never thought I would have, it gave me the chance to lead and grab life with both hands. I truly believe I’m the person I am today because of that generosity and selflessness.
In May 2014, Karen Franklin, a local Harcourts Real Estate Agent offered a sponsored trip on the Spirit of New Zealand for one Hibiscus Coast teenager. All they had to do was write a hand-written letter to explain why they felt they would like or deserve this trip.
Although Cassie Newman was not the lucky recipient in the competition there was something in her letter that touched Karen's heart. She shared her feelings with her good friend Heidi Johnston of Windowmakers Ltd in Silverdale and the pair of them decided that together they would like to sponsor a trip for Cassie as well but without detracting from Daniel Greenhalgh the winner of the competition.
Spirit of New Zealand voyages can be life enhancing. In the lead up to her voyage Cassie has excitedly to many adults around her and they have reflected back to their time on board and how amazing and fun it was and what a defining adventure in their own lives.
One of the things Karen wanted from her competition was to offer the trip to any teenager. Many of the students chosen through the schools are high achieving leaders and the voyage adds even more to their confidence and abilities. There is so much to be gained by a whole range of students. Karen's own son Ben benefitted from his Spirit voyage and has continued to be active with Spirit of Adventure Trust volunteering at refit and sailing across the Tasman.
An abridged version of this letter appeared in the HIBISCUS MATTERS Community Newspaper, 18 February 2015.
A big milestone for me this year was the competition that I ran to send a deserving teenager for a ten day voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand. My son Ben went on the ‘Spirit’ as soon as he could at 15 and did two more short voyages, helped for two weeks in the major refit and then did the trans Tasman tall ships race in October 2013 – a huge achievement and milestone in his life. I saw what it did for him, both in his personal growth and giving back to the Spirit of Adventure Trust when he volunteered two weeks of him time for the refit to seeing how employers recognised the value of having been on the ‘Spirit. (Click here to read Ben's story)
It was over Christmas last year while fishing at Great Barrier and seeing the ‘Spirit’ go past that I thought I would like to give someone an opportunity that they may not otherwise get. So I ran a competition which had several entries and the winner was chosen in conjunction with the Spirit of Adventure Trust – that winner, Daniel Greenhalgh was a unanimous decision. Daniel has been on his ‘adventure’ labelled ‘the best ten days of my life’ and his account of his time can be found below. There was another entry received after the closure that touched both my heart and my close friend Heidi Johnston from Windowmakers so together we have sponsored a very deserving girl on a January voyage. The sheer joy of giving those two teenagers an amazing opportunity was overwhelming and I will be running the competition again in 2015. A word of warning though – don’t trust NZ Post to deliver the entry on time.