Described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Masterlink Outward Bound Scholarship offers 10 Masterlink apprentices the chance to join other construction industry trainees on a fully funded 16-day Building Leaders Course in the Marlborough Sounds.

Among the 2023 winners was 18-year-old apprentice Jack Anderson, a keen rugby player with an appetite for adventure.

Midway through last year, Jack decided he wanted to leave school to pursue a trade. After catching up with his Gateway coordinators and running through his options, he chose drainlaying. Within a week, he had secured a 10-day work experience placement with Tauranga Hardware & Plumbing (THP), his current host company.

While doing work experience, he completed Gateway 2.0 with Masterlink, and by the time the 10 days were up, THP had offered to take him under their wing as an apprentice.

Andrew McCarthy Maryann Grainger Pete Jack Anderson Ben McCord-3x2
Sign Up Day 2022 (L to R) Andrew McCarthy (Director THP), Maryann Grainger (Gateway Coordinator, Te Kuiti High School), Pete Shields (Masterlink Apprentice Training Manager) , Jack Anderson and Ben McCord (Director, THP)

A no-brainer to apply

Jack first heard about Outward Bound when applications opened for the 2023 scholarships, offered by Masterlink thanks to the generosity of sponsors Methven Caroma.

Masterlink Apprentice Training Manager Pete Shields, recognising in Jack what he describes as “an amazing work ethic and a massive willingness to learn”, encouraged the young apprentice to give it a shot.

I did a bit of research on what it’s all about and it looked like a wicked experience. It seemed a no-brainer to write out an application.

- Jack Anderson

When he got the news that he’d been selected, Jack was excited but says he didn’t know exactly what to expect. “There is a lot of unknown around what you do on the course, so I had a lot of different emotions and expectations.”

The leadership course takes place in the middle of winter in Anakiwa, at the head of Marlborough’s Queen Charlotte Sound, where overnight temperatures can dip lower than 0°C. Jack was placed in the Huria Watch alongside 11 other construction trades apprentices and from the first day, he could tell he was in a group of positive people, ready to give it their all.

Huria Watch Outward Bound 2023
Jack Anderson (front row, far left) was part of the Huria Watch on the 2023 Outward Bound Building Leaders Course, along with fellow Masterlink apprentices Henry Cooper, Raphael Smith, Mason Tombleson and Russell Hohaia.

Highlights and challenges

The 16 days were brimming with physical activities and personal development programmes but for Jack it was the four-day sailing trip that stood out.

“Our second morning was the best,” he says. “We camped the night on a secluded beach and were up before sunrise and straight into the water. We sailed out into the middle of the Sound and had breakfast on the water as the sun came up.

“We lucked in with the wind and had a variable 25 knots in our sail, taking the cutter to the Outward Bound limit. I was fortunate enough to be on the rudder and it was such an incredible feeling when a gust of wind came up behind the boat. The sail filled with wind, the cutter rolling right over—it truly felt you were harnessing the power and energy of the ocean.”

For Jack the biggest challenge was a night of solo camping. Describing himself as someone who constantly lives at 100 miles an hour, being in solitude with few ways to entertain himself was testing. On their final full day at camp, the Huria Watch also took part in a 21km half-marathon—something Jack never would have imagined himself doing before Outward Bound.

Having to dig deep

Outward Bound is just as much a mental journey as it is physical. Jack’s biggest takeaway from his experience is that he is a lot more capable than he had thought. In the first few days he struggled with overthinking and self-doubt, but was able to persist with the help of his instructors.

“It’s not very often you are put into situations where you really have to dig in and find that strength to carry on, and for me that was where most of my discovery was found,” he says. “I can’t say this for everyone but for younger apprentices like myself, it is such an amazing opportunity to become in tune with yourself in a time of your life where it feels like you can be going off the rails a bit."

Jack Anderson at work

Newfound confidence

Since Jack returned from the Building Leaders Course, THP Technical Communicator/OH&S Coordinator Michelle McCarthy has noticed a real change in his self-confidence. Asked to recount his experience at a toolbox meeting, he spoke with newfound passion and confidence.

“Jack is an amazing self-driven young man, and I think that taking part in the Outward Bound programme has given him real belief in himself—that he is capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to,” says Michelle.

Going forward, Jack aims to complete his drainlaying apprenticeship within the next 12 months and gain as much knowledge from hands-on work as he can. “I’d like to say a massive thank you to Masterlink and Methven Caroma for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Outward Bound,” he says. “It was the experience of a lifetime and there are so many positive things I have taken away from it.”

Jack Anderson _Russell Hohaia in Huria Watch
Jack (second on left) sharing a laugh with fellow Masterlink apprentice Russell Hohaia and two other participants on the Outward Bound Building Leaders Course for apprentices in the construction trades.

This article was written by Connie Sellers and first appeared in NZ Plumber magazine October-November 2023