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Blog written by Shaya Oceane LAUGHLIN

It has been 23 days since I saw spelt out the best word I have ever read in my whole young life: CONGRATULATIONS!

I had dreamt about this email countless times so I asked my mum to pinch me as hard as she could to make sure it wasn’t another good dream. Bingo! This time it was real! That moment felt magical, like the world around me stopped for a few seconds… It was on a hot Australian summer’s morning in a small motel room on a road trip; my family was moving up the coast to a new town.

For the last three weeks, it has been a race to get everything sorted for selection camp. My preparation has been somewhat very “original” since exactly the day of my selection my family moved to a new town 2000km away to Far North Australia. Trust me … it is hard to find a public scanner in a rural town at Christmas time let alone contact media or try to contact a principal that doesn’t even know you will attend his school! But all these challenges spur me on and make my excitement grow every day!

I can hardly sit still to think that in 17 days (and counting down!) I will meet 17 young explorers from around the world to face amazing challenges in hope to secure one of the few spot for the Amazon Expedition with Mike Horn!

As far as preparation goes, I have been extremely lucky to have my family and friends by my side; everyone has been pitching in to make sure I have an optimum chance to following my dreams. Even from half way around the world, friends have been kindly donating warm clothes so that I don’t freeze in Switzerland. My Mum has been helping me get paperwork organized, Dad has been teaching me a few things on mental toughness and my grandparents have been feeding me lots of pasta!

My favourite part so far has been contacting media (I was stoked to make the front page of the newspaper!), training heaps, getting in contact with my fellow young explorers and learning a heap of things every day from everyone already!

Even after three weeks of running, swimming, cycling and research on the Amazon, I still have to ask my mum to pinch me frequently to make sure it is not a dream.

Thank you all so much for this opportunity!

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