EXCITED anticipation coupled with a few nerves are some of the emotions Mayor Paul Green has felt since accepting an invitation to walk the Kokoda Track.
Cr Green has been invited to participate in the Shoalhaven Kokoda Experience as a mentor, following the success of the program last year.
“It’s a little overwhelming. The minute Milton Lay asked me my heart fell through my chest.
“It will be emotionally draining and quite weighty for me.”
But Cr Green said it would be the experience of a lifetime and one he will gain a lot from.
“I must admit one of my motivators is the opportunity I will have to speak of this experience time and time again.”
As the Shoalhaven Mayor, Cr Green is invited to speak at many high-profile events with close links to Australia’s history and defence forces.
“In my position I get the opportunity to speak at events such as Anzac Day on a regular basis.
“It will be nice to come from a position where I have literally been in their shoes, albeit in much different circumstances.”
Coordinated by the Shoalhaven Area Consultative Committee, the proposal sees 20 young people from the region, together with 10 local mentors, travel to Papua New Guinea for 10 days to walk the Kokoda Track.
The group, which will consist of a mix of youth leaders, students and young indigenous people, will also visit the high school at Sogeri while in PNG.
Participants in previous Kokoda Experience expeditions have returned with greater self-esteem and a much stronger sense of community. Many have said their lives have been transformed not just by the experience but also by raising funds to be able to take part.
Cr Green said he wished to be involved as it would be a challenging experience “and one that can only enhance leadership skills and teamwork ability.
“My experience in working with Shoalhaven youth and my nursing background is considered to be beneficial to the mentoring program.”
Cr Green also invited other interested councillors to apply to become a mentor and said he would be meeting all of his own costs personally, as other councillors would be expected to do.