CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support) by Kathy McGovern
It could be that many people imagine to get up in the pre-dawn hours to be barked at during an hour of grueling military style training would be every teenager’s nightmare. Once again this has proven not to be so at Forest View as the super successful and popular CACTUS programme eased in to its sixth year.
We began our 8 week journey this year at the start of Week 2 in Term 3 at 6am with a group of nervous year 11, 12 and 13 students wondering what they had let themselves in for. As the weeks progressed the CACTUS family bonded and morphed into a supportive, determined and highly functioning team. As challenges became tougher people dug deeper in order to be successful – all under the watchful eyes of our great instructors Staff Bobby, Staff Theo, Staff Maire and Staff Eugene plus many the others who gave up their time to be there. Towards the end each student was measured against their initial performances and some remarkable improvements were achieved. The culmination of CACTUS is to complete the Longest Day which essentially incorporates all of the team skills and challenges which have been practiced throughout the 8 week programme. I hear that this year’s Longest Day was one of the toughest ever so to complete it was an awesome achievement.
It was interesting that as CACTUS drew to its.conclusion some students were heard to say that they didn’t want it to end because, “it made me fit”. I encourage all those involved to think about this from a different angle and recognize that CACTUS teaches those who take part that the only thing stopping them from achieving their personal and team goals is the little voice in their head telling them to stop, during CACTUS much of the learning was around putting that little voice ‘back in its box’ and rising to the challenge. This thinking can be applied successfully in any situation and the true success of the CACTUS programme will be the use of this strategy for a positive future.