This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 379 – October 2, 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

Adrenalin Rush

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I’m feeling in need of a little excitement in my life – and I think I’ve found the answer.  Millionaire entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, he of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin records, Virgin mobiles and the somewhat less successful Virgin trains, has now set his eye on another market to conquer – virgin space.  

Yes, by 2007 no less, he hopes to offer commercial space flights to all and everyone at the meagre cost of 210,000US$ per head.  If it wasn’t for my kid’s educational needs and the mortgage on the house, I’d have signed up already.  

His spacecraft, VSS Enterprise, will rush passengers up one hundred kilometres into space where they can experience the joys of weightlessness and stare back at earth for something just over four minutes.   It must be the ultimate adrenalin rush and I guess the three days of health checks and training that goes before it all add to the excitement.  

Mind you, as I read through the rest of my newspaper and learn of oil at $50’s a barrel and of future forecast shortages I wonder whoever will be able to afford the luxury.  It’s also a little disconcerting to see that kind of expense contrasted with developing world debt and the increasing plight of the poor, even in developed countries.  Somehow the world seems very out of balance.  

Never-the-less, the whole idea of adventure and adrenalin rush is not necessarily a bad one.  Over the years that I have been directing this programme you will have noticed that from time to time I report from some fairly active locations – teen adventure camps, Pathfinder Camporees, biking and hiking adventures with the odd bit of kayaking and surfing thrown in for good measure.  Some of my colleagues in the office think I’m mad and that, at age 46, I should be settling down slowly to more leisurely activities.  For me, I think you’re as young as you feel, and while I’ve never been into “competitive sport” I do enjoy activity that gets me out in nature, develops skills – and yes, gives something of an adrenalin rush.  And yes, I enjoy teaching and helping young people develop those skills as well.  

So it was something of a disappointment hear David Bell, the UK’s chief inspector of Schools express his concern that less schools are getting involved in outdoor activities, mainly through fear of litigation.  I can understand it.  To be involved in outdoor activities involves risk.  And where there is risk there will be accidents however hard you try to prevent them.  He argues that teachers need to be trained to manage risk and that it would be a great tragedy if outdoor education becomes lost to all but the minority.  

A couple of instances spring to my mind.  An 8 year old boy, scared of water.  We were on a half day kayaking experience.  He was too scared to get in a kayak.  So I went in a double kayak with him.  As he gained confidence he sat right in front of me and placed his hands on my paddle, learning the strokes from me.  Within the next half hour he took over and actually took us in a more or less straight line back to shore.  You could not have seen a prouder lad that evening.  He had achieved!  

Tamara was a 14 year old girl, brought up in the city, and scared of bikes.  Again I found myself riding beside her telling her when to change gear, what to do and when to do it.  At the end of the ride she swore she would never do it again.  Three years later I found her working as a volunteer helper on an outdoor activity camp – helping younger children gain confidence on their mountain bikes.  

Twenty years ago I led a group of teens up a mountain in the English Lake District.  My son was a 7 month old baby in a backpack.  I led from the front.  Helped some overcome their fear of heights.  Saw them work as a team to get to the top.  Saw the joy and exhaustion in their faces when they made it back down from the summit.  Today I meet those youth from time to time.  They have never forgotten.  It was one of those growth experiences.  

There are many ways it can happen.  For me it has been with the outdoor activities – also getting youth involved in worship and overcoming their fears as they lead out from the front.  With others it is developing the skills of helping others, or of growing their own crops, or developing craft or hobby skills.  Whatever the method, I would challenge you to find a way to let the adrenalin flow.   

And as the Para Olympics come to a climax, Paul even sees it in terms of his life with Christ:  

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Cor. 9:24-25 (NIV)  

That will be the best adrenalin rush of all – winning with Jesus -- and if you check the beginning of John 14 – you’ll even find it results in a free space journey far better than any Richard Branson could offer.  See you there.

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