Resilience for Teenagers

May 15, 2017

In September 2017, we’ll be taking a group of teenagers and their parents on a life-influencing adventure to Everest Base Camp.

Our Resilience for Teenagers course features daily challenges and activities that will foster leadership, resilience, teamwork and camaraderie. This is an unrivalled and experiential approach to learning not available elsewhere.

Teenage participants will discover how to create positive mental health strategies and how to build real resilience. Resilient people are better able to cope with challenging situations and setbacks and resilience is a vital ingredient to good mental health and wellbeing. We guarantee our course will build confidence and instil resilience strategies your teen will use for life.

The following is an open letter written by Trek Climb Ski Nepal Founder Nick Farr, to parents that are considering this adventure for their teenager. We’ve published it here because we’d like to share a little more about us and our unique program with you.

Dear Parent,

From September 23 – October 10 this year, we’ll be running our Resilience for Teens Everest Base Camp Trek.

This unique program is a collaborative effort put together by Nick Farr, David Buttifant and Tika Tamang. Not an unlikely combination when you consider our backgrounds and how we ended up working together. Given you’re considering trusting us with the personal development of your child at a crucial stage in their life, it’s only fair I share a little information about us and the philosophy that underpins this program.

I joined Victoria Police in 1986 when I was 19 and spent almost 20 years working as a detective in busy city locations. In 2000, I first travelled to Nepal and began my trekking and mountaineering career in earnest. With a few trips to Nepal under my belt, I started to see the world differently. The irony didn’t escape me that after a 20-year police career, it was only now I was discovering what real leadership, resilience and humility looked like. The Sherpa people of Nepal have taught me much.

I performed well at altitude and enjoyed its challenge. I embraced high altitude mountaineering and invested heavily (time and money) to properly learn the craft over the next 4 years. With a solid Himalayan climbing CV assembled, I headed to Mt Everest in 2005. On May 31, I was successful in reaching the summit on a day that saw almost every other team on the mountain retreat.

In 2006, I established adventure travel company Trek Climb Ski Nepal with my great Nepalese friend Tika Tamang. It was my way of thanking Tika for all he had done for me and helping to empower him and his family to take ownership of their future. A year later I resigned from Victoria Police. The challenge, passion and personal fulfilment I was experiencing working with Tika and Trek Climb Ski Nepal was my new direction.

Something I want to share is this. Tika and I have both enjoyed some incredible highs together in the mountains. We’ve also endured enormous pain and heartbreak. In 2003, we were both lucky to survive being trapped in a storm at 7400m on Cho Oyu – the 6th highest mountain in the world. My good friend and climbing partner at the time – Paul Carr – died beside me in our tent. This wasn’t how I’d planned for my personal resilience journey to play out.

An avid follower of AFL, I watched closely whenever the media reported of clubs heading off on high altitude pre-season training camps. David Buttifant was the trailblazing sports scientist at Collingwood Football Club at the time and he was achieving some great results with a very young team. I’m not a Collingwood supporter but it was hard not to notice (what appeared to be) the accelerated development trajectory of their playing list. A group of young men that went on to win the AFL premiership in 2010. The Collingwood Football Club were an elite sporting team with the best resources money could buy. But they were doing things differently.

By this time, I’d led several commercial trekking and mountaineering adventures in Nepal. Tika and I had resolved since day one that we would never take shortcuts or compromise the safety of any expedition we would run. So, our safety protocols, acclimatisation schedule, food, equipment and overall logistics quickly assumed industry best practice. More than 10 years later we boast a 100% client safety record with not so much as a near miss.

While our safety and success record was exceptional, this wasn’t the thing that was resonating with me the most. The shift we were seeing in the people that were joining our trips was impossible not to notice. In some cases, the before and after Nepal person was barely recognisable. And all we were doing was safely showing them the holiday of a lifetime in the Himalayas. Or perhaps something more?

My successful Himalayan climbing career opened the doors to lucrative speaking engagements. These evolved into leadership and resilience development workshops mostly for corporates and elite sporting clients. In 2012, I founded The Everest Academy and through this company commenced running leadership and resilience development programs and short courses. But something was missing and I wanted to learn more.

David Buttifant had now moved to the Carlton Football Club and I thought it was high time we met.  I reached out to David via LinkedIn and he generously gave me some time for a meeting. David reinforced and validated – from a scientist’s perspective – a lot of stuff I’d suspected. We talked about personal development, growth, leadership, resilience and even the physiology of altitude – his expertise not mine! The conversation kept steering back toward developing and nurturing young people and I learned more about David’s own N.I.C.K. Foundation. The N.I.C.K. Foundation was named in honour David’s son Nicholas Buttifant, who at 20 years of age took his own life. Whatever hardship I thought I’d lived through, paled compared to David’s.

David and I continued to meet regularly and not surprisingly, our Resilience for Teens concept was hatched. A program dedicated to developing the most critical resource a young person can possess – resilience. A program that immerses the young person in a remarkable and undistracted environment. A program that challenges, inspires, nurtures and shows young people exactly how to maximise their potential. A program that makes young people want to maximise their potential – which is where the magic happens. A program all about experiential learning. Doing lots, talking less. A program that guarantees to give young people a foundation for positive mental health and life skills they can’t and won’t get in the classroom or at home.

From September 23 – October 10, 2017, David, Tika and I will be leading our inaugural Resilience for Teens Everest Base Camp Trek. Professional photographer and videographer Mark Stennett will also be joining us to record this important first program in photos and film. Mark has worked with Trek Climb Ski Nepal previously and has provided much of the inspiration behind this program.

We invite you and your teenager to join us on a compelling and profound life journey.

Nick Farr
Founder – Trek Climb Ski Nepal