Getting youth out of their comfort zone

Published on August 2nd, 2021

Struggling to unplug your teenager this summer? With more restriction and structure today on children than parents experienced, boating offers a massive upside for instilling confidence and mental strength.

But how much rope do you ease out?

Ocean Feng is determined to “live life to the fullest” and not fall into the traps of a normal teenager. The 16-year-old is about to sail 100km around Hong Kong in a small inflatable catamaran, camping for four nights in the middle of summer, to get out of his comfort zone.

“My friends ask what the point of this is. It was really hard to find partners. It sounds so tiring, four days outside, they’d rather stay inside, watch Netflix or chill by the pool. I’m pushing, going outside and living life to the fullest,” said Feng, who will be joined by Hong Kong-based Frenchman Raphael Macresey.

“My dad has always been pushing me to be more adventurous,” Feng said. “He wants me to use my summers rather than just sitting at home or watching Netflix. It can be hiking, paddle boarding, or reading so many books in the summer. He wants me to use my summer.

“The camping doesn’t come naturally to me. He pushed me last summer to do this hike which
I wanted to do it in one day, but he wanted me to camp, which is a challenge in Hong Kong because it’s so hot and the weather changes. I did it and I’ve fallen in love with being outdoors.”

He now cannot wait to spend four nights camping, resting between his long sailing legs. And he’ll need all the rest he can get. Crossing shipping lanes will be mentally taxing.

“The challenge is stepping out of my comfort zone and facing fears,” he said. “Four days is a lot, I have to devote a lot of energy to it. I’ve never camped more than one night. Usually, when I go paddle boarding, or sailing, I stay in protected waters.

“I’ve very rarely gone through shipping lanes. That’s hard and I have to do planning for that. Not having a shower, not having good food, no Netflix, no Wi-fi, things that are important to teenagers these days. It’s a challenge but I’m very keen.”

Aside from the challenge of sailing, Feng is raising funds for A Plastic Ocean, an environmental charity best known for its Netflix documentary.

“Being outside a lot, I see what is happening. I went to the back of Middle Island, where people don’t usually go. There was so much. I found pig lungs, car keys, polystyrene. The strangest things wash up on the beach and it really disgusts me,” Feng said.

“I understand we are on a path where we can’t stop using plastic, but we can reduce it, use less or make changes.”

Feng needs no pushing now as the snowball is rolling on its own. “I haven’t needed being pushed this summer, but it’s great to fulfil his goals,” Feng added.

Source: South China Morning Post

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