New and exciting things

My name is James (Jamie) Clarke. I am 21 years old and a Gold Award holder from New Zealand. The first time I heard about the Award was through my school. I started at Bronze Level and progressed to Silver and then Gold. Since each level requires more hours and commitment, I thought it would be better to build up to my Gold Award. I was also proud of what I had achieved for Bronze and Silver and wanted to set my goals higher and do Gold. 

It was the expedition section of the Award that sparked my interest in tramping (hiking). For my Gold expedition I was one of 20 people who entered the Tararua Ranges for a five-day long tramp. True to the spirit of the Award, everyone assisted those who were struggling whenever they could. We enjoyed the scenery and learned survival skills like building shelters. I have since explored all of the national parks in the lower north island of New Zealand, walked through the Yorkshire Moors, and now I am going to the Antarctic. 

The Award allowed me to learn a lot more about myself. Through completing the programme, I learned initiative, leadership skills, perseverance, social skills… the list goes on. 

By keeping up with activities that I completed for my Award I have also continued to develop my skills. I have gone from playing weight grade school boy rugby to captaining a finalist team at senior club level and even playing at premier club level, which was a massive thrill. 

The Award has opened many doors for me including being recently selected as the Antarctic Youth Ambassador for the Sir Peter Blake Trust. This is an amazing opportunity that was partly due to my Award, which showed that I had the endurance and character to be an Antarctic Youth Ambassador. 

I was hugely surprised to be selected - it has always been a dream of mine to visit Antarctica and share in the uniqueness and history it has to offer. Being involved in the history and spending a month on the ice is going to be the experience of a lifetime. 

Completing the Award shows determination and perseverance. It’s easy to pull out of the Award programme or be satisfied with stopping at Bronze or Silver level. To see it through to the end requires patience and determination - that’s what makes the Award so special and satisfying when you complete it. 

It has definitely impacted my life and played a role in making me who I am today. The Award has seen me undertake a number of activities and experiences, some of which have become passions. If I had not been involved in the Award I may have never been exposed to tramping and camping, or embraced the experience in the way that I have. 

I also feel that working my way through the Award has changed the way others perceive me. I was Head Prefect of St Patrick’s College Silverstream in 2006, accepted as a GAP student at St Martins Ampleforth in 2007 and the Antarctic Youth Ambassador 2010. These are all examples where people made their choices based on my personality and my participation in the Award. 

The Award is a good mix of components that will see you carry on with activities you normally participate in but it also lets you try out new experiences. The beauty of the Award programme is that it offers an incentive to further yourself as an individual and encourages community work through the Service section. 

Now that I have completed the Award, I see myself on a good platform leading to new and exciting things. The skills and knowledge that I gained have put me in good stead to face the future. 

I believe that the Award is a great chance to extend yourself and get involved in things you may not otherwise try. I encourage everybody to give it a shot!” 

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