Our Year 11 students recently returned from their Year 11 camp in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Below, SMGS Student, Sarah Milford shares her experience of overcoming some of her biggest fears.

Our fears are something that are always in the back of our mind; until we face that fear they will always be there. On Year 11 camp I had the opportunity to face mine, my fear of heights and the fear of not having my feet on the ground. The Grand Day arrived, I had sweated over my fear for weeks before the camp, I was adamant that there was no way I would abseil down a waterfall and face them. Oh, was I wrong.

The Grand Day finally came and we went and did some practice abseils on dry, safe land. The first two abseils were fine. I was happy and in my comfort zone, my feet were still able to touch solid rock. At the third abseil I was faced with the challenge of doing an overhang. My fears set in and I freaked out. As you can imagine, an overtired teenager with the fear of her feet not touching the ground, I cried and screamed and said that I couldn’t do it and that I needed someone to come and get me down. In the end, with some help from the ALI staff, Ms Riorden, Mr Klimes, students and the guiding company staff, I made it to the bottom. Little did I know this was not the worst part of the day and there would be more challenges I would have to face.

We left the abseiling and went to lunch, my nerves calmed with the help of a burger and chocolate. We arrived at the walk into the canyon, and my nerves started to rise again. However, the walk to the area where we started the canyon calmed me. It was amazing to see an environment so different from our own and the beauty of it all captivated me. We then reached the canyon that we would walk through before we would abseil down the height of the day. The canyon itself with its freezing water and an ecosystem of its own was amazing. There is so much about our environment that we don’t see and there is so much of it that has had limited impact by man.

I reached the slide that would take me to the waterfall I was now about to face, and Stuart, one of the guides, was coming with me to help me down the waterfall and become a part of my journey of facing my fears. I watched at the top and one of my fellow students started his abseil and flipped himself upside down and was left just looking at his feet while he dangled for dear life trying to get himself into a position to go down the waterfall the right way up. His feet soon disappeared and I was to go next. At the top all I could hear was my heart thudding and the rushing of the water. I was attached and Stuart had left my side to help me from just below me. I stepped over to the edge and prepared myself to abseil down the waterfall. On the edge I was the most scared I had ever been in my whole life. Standing on the edge, freezing, looking down seeing the bottom, made me want to turn back and walk back out of the canyon but I knew that deep down I had to do it, I had to go down, there was no turning back. I let more rope slip through my fingertips, this was my lifeline and I was not willing to let go. Slowly I let it slip and along with it slowly went my fear. Soon I was on the edge and like Oscar dangling for my life; however I managed to stay right side up. The wall when I finished the overhang was slippery and wet. Safe to say this was not my finest moment – I screamed and cried and watched as my fear came back while I looked like Bambi on ice trying to keep my feet on the wall. I continued to let the rope slip through my hand; little by little I was making it back to the ground. Through tears and screams, I managed to look up, looking back at the wall where my fears nearly took over and that I nearly didn’t do.

Looking up was an amazing feeling and I believe that I will take it through my life to look up to see the challenge that I have faced and know that it does not control me, it is just one of those things we must face to be better people. I reached the pool of water that formed at the bottom of the waterfall and for a moment I turned and again looked back at the waterfall, knowing now that it did not own me, it just helped to shape me and make me a braver person. My advice to anyone facing a fear, whether it be big or small, know that your own Grand Day will come the same way mine did, but just face them and in the end your fears should not own you, you should own your fears.

Sarah Milford