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Camp Maasai - An Emotional Journey

26-Mar-2015 Mark at Camp Maasai

The Reach Foundation equips young people with the emotional resources, connections and life skills they need to thrive in our complex world. Each year, Reach invites business leaders and a group of disadvantaged teenagers to Camp Maasai - a place to connect, learn and grow together.

Last month, Mark attended the camp in the Victorian Grampians as part of our ongoing relationship with Reach, and for the opportunity to mentor and offer experience, advice and support to youth.

He came back inspired, grounded and clear in thought. Read his moving personal account below.

My Experience – Mark Schiffer

I would recommend Camp Maasai to any CEO, director or business owner. It’s an experience that is raw, real and provides perspective. You will walk away a different person.

I was put up to this by one of my staff; a way to support Reach and help disadvantaged youth. I thought it was a great opportunity to use my experience to mentor young people and offer them advice and support.

Camp Maasai only went for two days, but it felt like a month.

We were not greeted with a “how are you,” but rather with a "how is your family?” The Maasai people ask this because they see inextricable links between how your family is doing and how you are doing. 

We were then introduced to an analogy - a lion surrounds a village - the lion symbolising the fears, challenges and barriers we all experience that confine us. We talked of facing the lion and how that helps us positively move forward with our journey.

Without giving too much away, the stories the young people had were often shocking and heart-breaking. I was astounded to learn there are kids out there dealing with such awful circumstances, and often the only support they have comes from an organisation like Reach.

I asked myself, “what can I possibly offer these people?” But as the first day unfolded I realised that it wasn’t about feeling pity; it wasn’t about providing advice or tangible help; it was about listening. There are people like this woven through society, and all they need is honesty, friendship and a bit of support. I had a realisation that this is a two-way thing – we all need to be more open to others and also to ourselves.

As the weekend progressed both the young people and the adults opened up. Facades came down and the group of 30 individuals (15 youths, 15 managers/CEOs), became one harmonious entity undivided by age, gender or life experience.

Over the two days, we were all challenged emotionally, mentally and physically by mountains, ideas, thoughts, activities, open workshops and discussions. As we passed the challenges, we celebrated our achievements together.

An emotional journey - I arrived in Melbourne grounded, clear in thought, energised and motivated to better myself and support those around me.

It’s not about asking someone how they are - ask how their family is. Because if the people who surround them in life are not doing so well, they’ll more-than-likely be affected too.

Recently, our group had a reunion. It was great to see that many of the participants, both young and old, had already tackled and conquered some of their challenges.

If anyone is interested in this experience, I’d be happy to chat to you about it and connect you with the right people from Reach. Also have a look at their website to find out the great things they do for our young people and see if you can assist in some way. 

Climbing a mountain at Camp Maasai

Mark making a mask at Camp Maasai


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