Kokoda Pilgrimages for Schools

Days
8
From
$4,095
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award

Our Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge was voted as the most outstanding youth leadership program at the Clubs NSW Annual Awards Dinner in 2017.

More than 700 young Australians from all walks of life have graduated from this program over the past decade.  According to the judges of the award this program is without peer in the development of personal leadership qualities based on the enduring values of Kokoda.

Other schools who have used our Kokoda pilgrimages for leadership development are Kings School, Parramatta; Riverina Anglican College, Wagga Wagga; combined schools from the Hills District in Sydney; Penrith Panthers on the Prowl; Canberra PCYC and Lomandra School, Campbelltown.

Our Kokoda pilgrimages for schools are based on lessons learned from our own experience as graduates of the army Officer Cadet School, the Royal Military College and the Australian Command and Staff College.  We draw upon the experiences of our Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 160 years professional military service that includes combat experience in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

During their pilgrimage students are disconnected from the travails of social media and reconnect with themselves, their fellow trekkers, the environment, the culture of the Koiari and Orokaiva villagers along the trail, and the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.

We de-clutter the theory of leadership and get back to basics in a physically challenging isolated foreign environment where risk is real, personal commitment is required and teamwork is essential. And no matter how hard the going gets we are constantly able to reflect on the difficulties our young troops had in fighting their way across the trail against all the odds in 1942.

We stress that the relevance of the Kokoda pilgrimage is not about the glorification of war - it's about the commemoration of sacrifice.  It's also a realistic demonstration of the ability of the human spirit to conquer adversity.

But most of all It's about Australian leadership!

Our leaders in 1942 were not the inheritors of family and military title along the lines of the British Officer Training School at Sandhurst or the descendants of American military dynasties that started with the War of Independence and progressed through wars against the Indians, the Mexicans and finally themselves in the Civil War - and manifested at the West Point Military College as Captain Yankee Doodle the 3rd - or 4th and so on.
 
Our Australian military leaders were from a different stock in 1942.  When the clarion call to arms was sounded they came off the land, they came out of the public service, they left their jobs in banks, insurance companies and local businesses to enlist.
 
Our army was not big enough to have an elite officer corps - so many of our battlefield commanders emerged as a result of their performance in the field of battle.  And they emerged because they earned the respect of their mates as a result of their personal courage, their ability to think under duress, their loyalty to their commanders and their compassion for those they led.
 
Military Leadership in those days wasn't rocket science. In fact it was defined as:
 

'the art of influencing and directing men to achieve an assigned goal in such a way as to obtain their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal co-operation'.

Essential military leadership characteristics include:

  • Loyalty:
    faithfulness to country, corps and unit, and to your seniors and subordinates.
     
  • Sense of Honour
    (Integrity): Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles, absolute truthfulness and honesty; fairness and impartiality in exercising command.

  • Sense of Responsibility:
    Consistent endeavour to discharge the responsibilities accepted as an officer.
     
  • Knowledge:
    Acquired information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your men.
     
  • Courage:
    A mental quality that recognises fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.
     
  • Initiative:
    Seeing what has to be done, and commencing a course of action, even in the absence of orders.
     
  • Decisiveness:
    Ability to reach decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.
     
  • Tact: 
    The ability to deal with others without creating offence, and show respect for individuals
    .
  • Dependability:
    The certainty of the proper performance of duty.
     
  • Endurance:  The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to stand pain, fatigue, distress and hardship.
     
  • Enthusiasm:
    The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.
     
  • Unselfishness:
    Avoidance of providing for one's comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.
     
  • Bearing:
    Creating a favourable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct at all times.
     

The Aims of Military Leadership are:

  • Primary Aim: Accomplishment of the mission.
  • Secondary Aim: Welfare of the men.

Military Leadership Principles are guides for the proper exercise of command:

  • Be technically and tactically proficient.
  • Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
  • Know your men and lookout for their welfare.
  • Keep your men informed.
  • Set the example by deeds, not words.
  • Ensure that the task is understood, supervised and accomplished.
  • Train your men as a team.
  • Make sound and timely decisions.
  • Develop a sense of responsibility amongs subordinates.
  • Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.
  • Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
  • Make the primary mission the combat efficiency of your command.

Military Leadership Techniques are actions given by the leader.  Each technique should:

  • Be guided by the leadership principles.
  • Exhibit the characteristics of a leader.
  • Be consistent with the situation.
  • Contribute towards achieving the goal.

Combat Efficiency was described as the ability of the unit to accomplish an assigned mission in the shortest possible time with the minimum loss of life and waste of material.

Indications of Military Leadership are:
  • Morale:
    an attitude of confidence in the mind of an individual when he identifies himself with a group, accepts group goals and works hard to achieve them.
     
  • Discipline:
    the prompt obedience to orders and, in the absence of orders, the initiation of appropriate action.
     
  • Esprit De Corps:
    the loyalty to, pride in, and enthusiasm for a unit shown by the members of that unit.
     
  • Proficiency:
    the technical, tactical and physical ability to do a job well.

Some 50 years on the gender of our language has changed but the principles and techniques remain the same.

By day 5 . . .

After five of the hardest days our young trekkers will ever have experienced we take time out to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves, our fellow trekkers, our PNG guides and carriers, the villagers we have met and the history we have learned thus far.
 
By this stage they have an empathetic understanding of the writings of Sir Daniel Aarons, author of 'Amateur Solder' where he wrote:
 

'The years I spent in war were the happiest I ever spent.  I shared a task with men of every type and every social station and was admitted to a fellowship so rare as to almost justify the beastliness that made it possible.  There is this to be said of war: you live simply if at all, and you do it in the company of men at their very best, spurred to a passionate unselfishness by a common purpose which at all other times is lacking'.

Around the campfire our trek leaders will discuss the '3+1 Rules of Survival' and various theories of leadership based on our own experiences: the army 'Group' theory based on the premise that he or she who wears the rank is not necessarily the leader; 'Command' leadership relevant to combat situations; 'Situational Leadership' which is the ability to shift behaviour according to the demands of the situation.  We discuss the characteristics of effective team leadership which encompasses the natural mix of decisive action people, thinkers and carers. 

By this stage the group are no longer strangers and are beginning to develop strong bonds of friendship.  They now have an appreciation of the term 'Esprit de Corps' which wartime historian, Dudley McCarthy, attributed to another young group of strangers, the 39th Militia Battalion:

'Although possessing no permanent site, having neither roof nor walls, no unchanging form, it yet becomes home for those who serve in it.  Away from it, each of its members can revert to being homeless individuals, lost uncertain, without proper identity.  Because of this it calls to life in a man, rounded into fullness through shared battle, suffering and death, each other will always feel some sense of brotherhood for each other man of his battalion.  Through this thing the strong lift the weak to efforts and achievements beyond their own strength and their conscious wills, and the dependence of the weak gives greater strength and endurance to the strong.  For every individual human part of this battalion who is killed, this thing changes something in those who survive and calls to life something new that never was there before'.

Students then retire to think about a leader who has inspired them in their lives thus far - a parent, a teacher, a coach, a friend.  Later in the day they return to the group and tell us about that person and the values they have and the qualities they exhibit that inspires them as a role model.

We then share a view on leadership from an old mentor:

‘From long experience I have learned the importance of knowing the capacities of my people.  I view each person as an individual with strong and weak points.  I have considered opinion about the strengths and limitations of each person and the responsibilities each will probably be able to handle best.  In a general way I know when it will be safe to let a person ‘have his or her lead’ and when to ‘tighten the reins’.  I consider it is part of my job to provide conditions that will allow my people to perform at their best.

‘I have learned to watch for signs that a person may be reaching breaking point, particularly during prolonged periods of stress.  When I sense a person to be reaching breaking point I arrange for their relief as tactfully as possible.

‘I follow the practice of pushing decision making as far down the organization as it should reasonably go.  For example, I give most of the problems that come to my desk to people who I think should handle them.  Usually I do not comment on these problems in advance even though I usually have my ideas on how they should work.

‘I try to avoid making commitments that involve my people without their knowledge.  I recognize it is tempting to promise people they will get everything they ask for.  Instead I take note and promise that their request will be looked into, and that they will get it unless a good reason exists.

‘I have learned to be especially careful in one aspect of my actions.  I have found that people are highly sensitive to anything a boss says or does.  I have found that even the most vague speculations about possible actions can cause my entire organization to shift into high gear. Accordingly, I learned long ago not to throw off any chance remarks which might be construed to be subtle directives.

‘Despite my calculated reserve I am constantly tempted to tell employees how things should be done.  I have a reputation for getting to the root of problems and, of course, I like seeing things done according to my own preferences.  However, I am convinced that much of my effectiveness depends upon resisting this temptation. I have found that this restraint has resulted in my people getting high satisfaction from their own jobs.  I believe that this is also why I have developed a reputation for always having my people ‘behind me’.

‘I have learned to use my people as a team.  I encourage ideas and suggestions from everyone concerned, not only by saying so, but also by making sure that those who ‘stick their necks out’ do not feel threatened by their or others’; comments.

‘I insist that my people clear their ideas with each other before coming to me.  I recognize that most problems will involve the activities of more than one branch or section.

‘I am concerned about the development of my entire organization and I make effort in this direction.  I make it a specific responsibility of supervisors to bring on their employees.  I encourage supervisors, for example, to invite selected employees to conferences where the latter can make a contribution or learn something relevant to their own work.

‘I believe that written directions or memoranda are most useful when they summarize or record concepts that have already been discussed.

‘I have found that the idea within which employees can act on their own initiative needs defining.  I therefore keep in touch with my people so that I can show them where they are in over their heads.  I don’t hesitate to tell them when they have failed – I do so plainly but in a way which stresses how such mistakes can be avoided in the future and how they can profit from them.’

 

What's included

  • Meals
  • All transportation
  • All accommodation
  • All trek fees
  • Mosquito-proof tents

Dates & Availability for Kokoda Pilgrimages for Schools

Date
Status Price  
21 Sep - 30 Sep 2024
Kokoda to Owers Corner
Taking Bookings $5,395 $4,995 $5,095 $4,195

Photos from the Kokoda Pilgrimages for Schools

FAQs about this trek

The situation is assessed by the trek leader.  If it is an emergency the trek leader will contact Adventure Kokoda base in Port Moresby via satellite phone or VHF Radio.  Adventure Kokoda will initiate evacuation by contacting the helicopter company and the travel insurance provider. 

The patient will be met by Adventure Kokoda staff on arrival at Port Moresby and transported to the Pacific International Hospital for assessment/treatment.

The distance across the Kokoda Trail between Owers Corner and Kokoda as the crow flies is 96 km. However if you were to strap a Garmin 64st GPS to the leg of the crow and get him to trek it via the wartime trail the actual distance is 143.7 km - you would also climb a total of 6748 metres.

 

Most trekkers bring some of their favourite snacks to nibble on between meals during the day.  These include biscuits, chocolate bars, jelly beans, etc.

Try and avoid too many dried fruit and nut mixes as they are heavy and can be a bit hard on the digestive system.

Your daily snack pack should not exceed 150 grams.

The difference is the dialogue we have within the group during and after our presentations.

We have a combined total of 160 years professional military experience - our trek leaders have served in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. They are able to relate discuss the ground and conditions to the strategic situation of the time and the various principles that apply to the different phases of war.

They have also experienced the emotional aspects of perhaps never seeing their families again - and they understand mateship because they have experienced it under combat condtions.

As a result they are able to provide informed debate surrounding some of the decisions made by commanders in the heat of the campaign and relate many of the personal stories of veterans they have previously served with.

This is not stuff you can learn from a book - it comes from personal experience in the army and makes for interesting and lively dialogue.

According to Major General Gordon Maitland, a distinguished military historian there are three types of military historians:

  • Journalist historians, who show little respect for the facts in order to tell a good story
  • Academic historians, who have the time and facilities to unearth new and valuable information, but mainly at the political and strategic levels
  • Soldier historians, who are the only ones one can trust at the tactical level, for they have been taught to understand the key factor – ground'.

Adventure Kokoda engages 'soldier historians'! who meet Major General Maitland's criteria of understanding key tactical factors and are able to incorporate them into interesting and entertaining battlefield presentations.

  1. We pioneered Kokoda Kokoda pilgrimage tourism in 1992 and since then we have led more trekkers safely across the trail than any other tour company.
     
  2. We are the only tour company to specialise on pilgrimage tourism on the Kokoda Trail - we do not trek to any other location - Kokoda is all we do.
     
  3. We have the most professional and experienced trek leaders - our team has 160 years combined military experience - we have led more than 650 expeditions safely across the trail over the past 30 years.
     
  4. We are the only trek operator to have established a Not-for-Profit company, Network Kokoda, and now provide more philanthropic support to traditional subsistence villagers across the trail than all other tour companies combined. 
     
  5. We have a permanent rear headquarters in Port Moresby and maintain a 24/7 VHF radio watch to monitor daily progress of our trek groups and to react immediately in the event of any emergency.
     
  6. We are the only trekking company to provide for the welfare of our PNG guides and carriers by issuing them with sleeping bags, sleeping mats, full trek uniforms and the same ration scale as our trekkers.
     
  7. We are the only trekking company that limits the maximum backpack weight for our guides and carriers to 18 kg which was the maximum weight allowed during the Kokoda campaign in 1942. This means we have to employ more porters which adds to the cultural value of our pilgrimages.

Meet the Trek Leaders

Major Charlie Lynn OAM OL - Director, Adventure Kokoda

In 2015 Charlie was inducted as an Officer of the Logohu by the Government of Papua New Guinea in their New Years Honours and Awards list 'for service to the bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both nations' over the past 25 years.'   More..

Tracie Watson - General Manager

Tracie is the General Manager and engine room of Adventure Kokoda - she is on-call 24/7 and will look after your every need and concern from the moment you book your trek until you arrive back in Australia.  More..

Tau Maguli - Quartermaster

Tau Maguli is our PNG Quartermaster with an enormous task, he coordinates the allocation of 350 of our PNG guides and porters to ensure each trek has an equal number from each village across the Trail and each one gets at least six (6) treks a year.  More..

Peter Morrison

Peter Morrison is an unassuming young Australian.  He first trekked with Adventure Kokoda almost a decade ago and developed a strong desire to learn more about the campaign and the people he met along the trail.  Peter is a professional boxer and former NSW Welterweight  Champion.  More..

 

Captain Reg Yates

Over the past 34 years Captain Reg Yates has explored most of the WW11 battlesites in PNG. He is fluent in Tok Pisin and is well respected by village elders along the Kokoda Trail.  More..

 

Major Scott Babington

Scott joined the Australian Army as a 16 year old apprentice in 1985.  He was promoted through the ranks and has spent over 34 years serving in the Australian Regular Army.  

Scott has worked with the United Nations in Sudan as a Military Observer and as an Adviser in Afghanistan with the US 82nd Airborne and the 3rd Infantry Divisions.  More..

 

Dave Sherry

Dave began exploring Australia as soon as he was old enough to escape Sydney.  He was born in the city but his heart was in the bush and he now lives on a farm just outside the western country town of Horsham.  There are few places in Australia that Dave hasn’t trekked on foot or explored in off-road vehicles.  He even took to the sea as a crew member on the Tall Ship HMAS Bounty during the Bicentenary in 1988.  

Dave first trekked Kokoda in 2006 and began leading expeditions across the trail in 2011.  He has now led more than 35 groups across the trail.  More..

 

Major Craig Moffat OAM

Craig joined the Australian Army in 1979 and was posted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps where he has served for 40 years with over 20 years serving in Special Operations Command as a Commando.  

Craig has seen regimental service as a soldier and officer rising through the ranks within The Royal Australian Regiment and Special Operations Command, his career culminated as soldier with two Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) appointments prior to commissioning to officer in 2005.  More..

Peter Davis

Peter served in the Army Reserve for 7 years and has two grandfathers who served in both World Wars - one being a highly decorated soldier.  Peter recently graduated with a MPhil in Military History with the Australian Defence Force Academy and is now studying for his PhD.  More..

Jake Leske

Australia’s Honey Bee.  Former Navy sailor, Jake Leske, is more than an outstanding Kokoda trek leader, he is Australia’s original ‘Honey Bee’ and a remarkable endurance athlete.  Jake first trekked with Adventure Kokoda to learn more about the Kokoda campaign.  He returned as a volunteer 2IC and later led his first trek.  More..

Warrant Officer James 'Max' Walker

James ‘Max’ Walker (first trek with Adventure Kokoda Aug 2018 – 2IC Apr 2024).  

Max Walker is a former career soldier who first joined the Australian Regular Army as a young apprentice.

During his service, Max was posted to the United Nations in Cambodia and deployed to the Republic of Narau prior to the establishment of the Australian offshore immigration detention facility.  More..

Angelo Tsirekas

Angelo first trekked Kokoda in 2010 and has since trekked it another 10 times with groups he has recruited from the Canada Bay Area. He has been 2IC to Charlie Lynn on his recent treks and has now stepped up to be a trek leader.

He is a former Board Member of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway in Concord and was instrumental in establishing the 'Rusty Priest Kokoda Scholarship Program' with students from Rosebank College.

Fiona Foster

Fiona has a strong passion for Kokoda, PNG and its people which was sparked as a young girl knowing her grandfather fought on Kokoda.

As a school teacher Fiona has extensive experience in developing leadership in young Australians and has been involved in the development of a leadership program within the school environment.  This saw her bring two passions together; teaching our future generations and Kokoda, whilst getting them outside of their comfort zones, and allowing them to learn about themselves.  More..

Carla Valmorbida

Carla brings great organisational skills, energy and humour to her role.  She is passionate about the Kokoda campaign and thrives on seeing how transformative and life-changing this experience can be for trekkers.

Carla was initially inspired to trek Kokoda to honour her Grandfathers service with the AIF in Buna and has now successfully participated in a number of Adventure Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge treks as a Trek Guide.  More..

Bernie Rowell

Bernie is a Kokoda tragic.  He first trekked with Kokoda to honour his father who served in New Guinea during the war.  He has since trekked it 55 times.  Bernie has transposed his success in business to his passion for leading treks across the Kokoda Trail.  More..

Major Chad Sherrin MM

Chad is a decorated Vietnam veteran - he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in action.  Chad first joined the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8 RAR) as a tracking dog handler.  He was promoted through the ranks to Sergeant while serving with 8 RAR and served with the Battalion in Malaysia and South Vietnam.  More..

Lieutenant Colonel Rowan Tracey LLB BA

Rowan is a pioneer of the Kokoda Trail.  He first trekked it 30 years ago when he served with the PNG Defence Force.  He is fluent in the local language 'Tok Pisin'.  Rowan is a military historian and is acknowledged as the most eminent authority on the strategy and tactics of the Kokoda campaign.  More..

Commodore Simon Hart CSC MSc MA

Simon joined the Australian Navy a Cadet Midshipmen in 1973 and carved out an outstanding career spanning 33 years.  He specialised in maritime surface ship operations and spent the majority of his career at sea.  More..

Why Trek with Adventure Kokoda

Our primary goal is to lead you safely across the Kokoda Trail and ensure you have an unforgettable wartime historical and cultural experience.

Charlie has led 101 expeditions across the Kokoda Trail over the past 32 years.

He previously served in the Australian Army for 21 years. During this time he saw active service in Vietnam; was assigned to the joint Australian, New Zealand and British (ANZUK) Force in Singapore/ Malaysia from 1970-72, and as an exchange instructor in Airborne Logistics with the United States Army from 1977-78. He is a graduate of the Army Command and Staff College.

Why choose Adventure Kokoda?

Why is Kokoda so important?Dive into the History