Cusco Leaders Training Trip 2018

The S4 Leaders Training Trip in 2018 was, for the first time ever, in Cusco. This is a great location to run a course which really tests the students (and staff) physically, mentally and socially, with the aim being to prepare the students ready for the responsibilities as Leaders on Outdoor Education trips with younger students in 2019.

“150 locals from the Ccorcor community, 100 students from COAR in Cusco, 160 Markham staff and students, all together to reach a common goal, plant 10 thousand trees” - Sabrina Garrido y Antonella Ventura

It also formed part of the selection process for the different trips, and so one of the themes was "impress us", otherwise they might not be selected for one of the 105 leadership positions. This trip of a lifetime became a voyage of self-discovery, with students showing themselves they are able to manage themselves and others in the difficult situations we presented them with, understood something about their own resilience and tolerance, and proved that they are more capable than they thought. By the end of the trip they understood Master Shifu's words: "If you only do what you can do, you'll never be more than you are". We set out to show these students that they are bigger than they first thought.

Activities included stand-up paddle boarding across, then mountain biking around Laguna Piuray, agricultural and cultural activities with the community of Ccorcor where we camped for 3 nights, the 12km trek reaching just over 4200m over to the Incan ruin of Uchuy Cusco to camp for a night, a full day of ropes activities near Lamay, and finally the planting of 10,000 trees above Ccorcor with the community on the final Friday morning.

“All the difficult experiences and challenges from the previous days were immediately forgotten while I stepped off the tent, I could not believe the beauty I was seeing” - Pascal Mariategui

But it was the moments separate to the planned activities which made the trip extra special and unforgettable - Cochrane's rainstorm on the second night in Uchuy Cusco, dancing with the Quechua speaking locals during the start of the Quenua Raymi tree planting festival, Rowcroft's Wednesday night hike, the closer friendships formed throughout the promo, learning more about the unique way of life in the Andes.

“It implied taking a second to stop ignoring our surroundings; learning and appreciating what we have to offer and what others have to offer us” - Sabrina Garrido y Antonella Ventura

The students returned to Lima with a much greater understanding of themselves, each other and their country, and also with a much greater appreciation of those everyday things we take for granted. Guaranteed that first shower back in Lima was the best ever, and something which isn't an everyday possibility for many who live in Peru: the country which we hope these young Leaders will take responsibility for in their bright futures.

“The Cuzco Leaders Trip was an unforgettable experience that not only taught me how to be a leader but also how to become a better and more tolerant person” - Pascal Mariategui

- Text was written by John Vincent.