My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
We had keenly followed the work of the AYCC in the past, time restrictions had always prevented us from getting involved, so when Climb-it for Climate was launched we all jumped at the opportunity to raise money for some of the incredible projects we had always followed from a distance.
Fran, Isabella and myself are three highschool friends from Melbourne who have always shared a passion for environmental sustainability. Five years out of school, we were all coming to the end of our University studies and on the lookout for a new challenge. Whilst we had keenly followed the work of the AYCC in the past, time restrictions had always prevented us from getting involved, so when Climb-it for Climate was launched we all jumped at the opportunity to raise money for some of the incredible projects we had always followed from a distance.
Given we have very similar social circles, we made the (somewhat ludicrous) decision to combine our fundraising efforts. Whilst this had the benefit of contributing three brains to the task, we set ourselves the enormous challenge of raising a total of almost $12,000 in a nine month period, simultaneous to studying and/or working full time. This was daunting to say the least! None of us had any fundraising experience and not the faintest idea how to go about it - a month into the challenge, with $0 sitting in our bank account and life getting in the way, we were worried we had bitten off more than we could chew. But once we engaged the support services available, set short term goals and brainstormed our top fundraising initiatives, we were able to devise a multi-pronged plan that eventually allowed us to smash our target.
Our biggest fundraising platform was what we called our TRIVIA EXTRAVAGANZA - complete with egg and spoon race, the whiskey/coin toss and an impromptu dance competition, we came up with some really fun ways to not only ensure our 100 guests had a great night, but also to maximise profits. Raising nearly $4000 in one event, our guests actually asked us to host another one! That is not to say it was smooth sailing - a few weeks out from our first event we were struggling to find a suitable venue that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Worried we would have to postpone the night, we thought outside the box; hiring a local venue that was far smaller than ideal, we got creative with the space and ended up spending 80% less on venue fees than we had feared we would have to pay.
My greatest fundraising tip is to utilise your social networks - we raised almost $1500 through a chocolate drive which was run largely by friends and family! People were really accommodating and even excited to help out, and it took a lot of the pressure off having this campaign run with limited coordination.
All in our early-mid twenties and not the most physically active people on the planet, we did hold reservations about whether or not we could complete such a physically demanding challenge. We tried to meet at least once a week to go on a long walk or play a team sport, supplementing that with individual exercise, and found that doing it in a group kept motivation levels high. Sign up a friend to train with you, connect with any other participants in your area - the most important thing is to make it fun.
On the whole, apart from my birthday when my amazing team let me lead for the day, we spent the majority of the trip bringing up the rear. But we had a great group of people with us who were all so supportive - on one occasion a team member stayed out in the rain for over half hour waiting for the last person to finish the day’s trek. On other occasions we had team members dancing up slopes signing to Beyonce! Mental resilience and that team support made all the difference. So if we could make it, you can too! (That said, if you sign up, please train. It is difficult and the more you put in, the more you will be able to enjoy the trip.)For those of you considering signing up but still not convinced, and those of you excited about what is to come, I am going to share with you two of my favourite memories. The first came on day six of the trek, our second acclimatisation day, where we were given the day to explore Dingboche. We hiked up to the ridge above town and spent the better part of an hour looking out over Ama Dablam (Mother Mountain), reflecting on the huge journey we had been on to get to this point. It was so serene and I was struck by how privileged I was to be here.
The second memory was the hike up Kala Patthar; the morning following Base Camp, we rose at the crack of dawn and started the three hour return trip to the highest peak of our trip.
Mentally and physically spent, I was sure I couldn’t make it, and on numerous occasions resolved to head back to the tea house for a warm breakfast of chai and chapatti omelette with the larger half of the group. Fran was determined though, and encouraged me to keep walking, five steps here and ten steps there, stopping every minute or so until we eventually got to the top. Looking out over the peaks of Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest, I was struck by a resolve to do my utmost in preventing further devastation to this amazing, majestic part of the world.
I cannot recommend Climb-it for Climate more highly - I made great friends, learnt new skills which I can use to engage with the climate movement, and the devastating impacts of climate change that I experienced motivates me that little bit more every time I feel despondent about the current state of affairs.
If you want to join this years expedition leaving on the 2nd of February you can register your interest here: http://www.inspiredadventures.com.au/aycc/everest2015/