On the 27th of May, Arc’teryx will be donating 50% of sales (from our AUS and NZ Arc’teryx websites, as well as our 2 Melbourne stores) to support the Australian charity First Hike Project Inc.
First Hike Project takes youth from refugee backgrounds on all gear and expenses paid overnight hiking and camping experiences in the Australian bush. Their goal is to offer safe, no-cost hiking experiences to people new to our country, with the hope they will feel more at home in Australia once they step outside the suburbs and discover nature.
All gear, food, drinks, and transport are supplied so there is no cost to the participant whatsoever. All food is culturally sensitive, and time is set aside for cultural and religious practices if need be. Day hikes are also run which can be good for including family members who are not in the youth demographic we normally target.
First Hike Project believes that hiking is a great way to break down barriers between groups of people and allow greater connections between participants, volunteers, and this country. This experience allows participants to strengthen their connection to Australia and ultimately to feel more at home in their new country.
Autumn 2016 - Swamp Oak campsite - Bibbulmun Track, WA
Why was First Hike Project Born?
Restarting life in a new country is always going to be a daunting experience. Imagine being in an unfamiliar location, in a different culture, with no real connections and no choice but to learn a new language. Now picture having to do this after fleeing your home because of violence or persecution, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes on your back.
For most of us, this is inconceivable but for 25.4 million refugees worldwide, it is their reality. In 2015, while hiking in Western Australia, Neil (himself an immigrant from South Africa) proposed a little idea to his mate: “Do you reckon we could take these kids from refugee backgrounds out on a hike with us?” With that simple idea, ‘First Hike Project’ (FHP) was born.
Within months they had hustled up enough volunteers, gear, and donations to take 15 kids out to one of their favourite spots along the Bibbulmun Track. Each participant was kitted out with a backpack, tent, and food. They hiked for a day, spotted kangaroos, and listened to the birds, and got to experience their very first overnighter in the Aussie bush.
Today, FHP has expanded to having groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Brisbane. They provide all the gear needed, as well as experienced hiking guide volunteers. All activities are free for participants, as FHP volunteers feel that sharing these spectacular and breathtaking experiences in the Aussie bush is their way of welcoming new arrivals into Australia.
First Hike Project Inc. is a not-for-profit incorporated association with charity status, and we couldn’t be happier to support them!