Tihoi preparation

There are a number of ways families and students can prepare for and make the most of their experience at Tihoi Venture School.

Read advice and experience of others in the Tihoi Knowledge Sharing Guide here

  • Overnight Trip – each year there is a compulsory trip for all Year 9 students to stay at Tihoi Venture School overnight. This overnight experience allows students to see the campus, experience activities with the staff and see what’s involved in a typical Tihoi day. 
  • Tihoi Induction Evening – Prior to the start of your son attending Tihoi Venture School, the school hosts an evening with a presentation from the Tihoi Director. He offers tips on how best families and sons can prepare for their Tihoi experience including what equipment is needed to ensure their stay is comfortable. This an important evening for both parents and students to attend. 
  • Sharing information about your son – If you have any key information about your son you believe is important to share with Tihoi staff, such as medical, social, or behavioural, you can do this through the Associate Headmaster. Parents also have an opportunity to book a meeting with the Tihoi Director before their son attends Tihoi. 
  • Preparing for homesickness – It is important to recognise there may be some ‘homesickness’ for both parents and students during this time. Being open and honest with the Tihoi Director if this happens will help resolve homesickness quicker. 
  • Avoid making ‘deals’ with your son – Making deals with your son if they are uncomfortable about attending Tihoi may prevent them from fully making the most of their experience. It is likely they will focus on a way out rather than the adventure. 
  • Correct equipment for a comfortable stay – Tihoi has the harshest of weather conditions so ensuring your son has good quality gear that fits and lasts, will only enhance his stay at Tihoi.
  • Fitness – St Paul’s Year 9 Physical Education programme is designed to help students improve their fitness in preparation for Tihoi. However, students are encouraged to increase their fitness further prior to going to Tihoi. Doing this as a family is a great way to spend quality time together and improve the physical well-being of each family member. 
  • Cooking and cleaning – A young man who can cook or bake well will contribute positively to the house. Your son should also understand the basics of cleaning and making a bed to a good standard.
  • Goal setting – It is important for your son to set himself some aspirational goals about what he wants to achieve during his time at Tihoi but these goals need to be achievable. These should be reviewed each time he returns home.

Advice for parents

  • Your son is required to write a letter home every week. He wants nothing more than to receive a letter back from you too – ideally every week. These letters are treasured on arrival and will be kept for a lifetime.
  • Your son may experience some challenging emotions while at Tihoi and these emotions might be reflected in his letters home to you. As a parent, this can be difficult to deal with from a distance. Please understand that your son may write when he is feeling at his worst. Understand that overcoming homesickness can boost your son’s self-esteem. You will likely see improved confidence, social skills and independence from him. Be positive, firm and reassuring is the best way to get good outcomes in this circumstance. By the time the letter gets to you, your son or Tihoi staff are likely to have resolved the issue. If you have concerns, feel free to contact the Tihoi Director.
  • Sometimes parents can get ‘homesick’ too. This is a normal natural anxiety associated with family separation. Please be careful how you communicate your own feelings and anxieties with your son while he is living away from you.
  • Encourage your son to try everything and to fully immerse himself in the Tihoi Venture School programme, so he gains the intended benefits from the experience.
  • Ensure you sit down with your son at the mid-point of the programme to see how he is tracking. What goals has he achieved? Do any of these goals need to be reset? 
  • Attend Tihoi Community Day. This is an important day for your son to spend time with you as a family.

Post Tihoi

While your son has been used to rising at 6:00 am each day and cooking on a wood stove, there is no need to recreate this experience when he arrives home. But here are a few ideas to continue the momentum of the new habits formed from your son’s experience at Tihoi. Remember, keeping things simple is important. 

  1. Time – Look to spend quality uninterrupted time with your son and family. This means no technology – no phone calls, texts or emails to distract any of you during this time. If you want to take photos, take a camera rather than a phone.
  2. Responsibility – For 18 weeks your son has lived in a house with seven other boys. He has learned to cook, clean, navigate in the bush, climb great heights, survive by himself overnight and complete his homework. There will be times he will look to seek out responsibility now he’s home. It is important you find ways to allow him to do this. 
  3. Reflection – Allow time for reflection. Your son has become used to writing reflections during his solo time at Tihoi. To continue this habit, look to reflect at important times of the year such as pre or post exams, before Matariki etc. This could be through a verbal reflection around the dinner table or in a written reflection. Your whole family can be involved in this process too. 
  4. Plan a trip – Try and plan an outdoor activity once a year. This could be a day trip, an overnight bush trip, a fishing trip, a trip to the bach, a bike ride along the Timber Trail or Otago Rail Trail – anything your family has a common interest in. Encourage your son to choose the destination and be involved in the planning. If the outdoors is not for your son, consider a cultural activity such as going to a show or musical.
  5. Cook a meal – Encourage your son to choose a meal he can cook for the family once a week. Offer to make this meal with him or let him prepare it himself. 
  6. Mistakes will be made – Your son will still make mistakes. He’s not perfect and you shouldn’t expect perfection. What is important is how he reflects on things he gets wrong, how he puts these right and what he learns from these. 
  7. Embrace the new passion – Often young men come back from Tihoi with a real love for a new activity they learned. This might be sea kayaking or mountain biking. If your son shows a real interest in a new activity – embrace it. This is a great opportunity for you to connect with him and let him teach you what he knows!