When they arrive in their team of ten, they're handed a backpack with some basic sleeping, camping (and wet weather) gear and they set off with experienced team leaders on a physical and psychological challenge over 8 days, and more than 100km.
Over this time they see very few people - blissfully unaware of the hub of activity at Base Camp and the small army of Exercise Commanders, ambulance paramedics, communications and operations personnel, cooks and drivers who co-ordinate the safe operation of the program.
At first it's very hard for them but it becomes easier as they adapt and start to enjoy the challenges they are meeting and begin to work as a team.
By the end of the trek, these young people have experienced many unfamiliar things. Among them, climbing mountains, abseiling down a rugged cliff, team-building activities and meeting people from the local Adnyamathanha community, who share their dreaming stories and traditional food.
Perhaps most unfamiliar will be the experience of attempting something really hard, persevering and ultimately succeeding. They find it exhilarating.
On completion, they all receive a dogtag stamped with an 1800 number, to keep forever. It reminds them that they are now a member of the "Operation Flinders" family and are not alone if they need help in the future.
Over 300 young people come through the program each year. And many, many dedicated volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes. Around a campfire at Base Camp I was moved by tales, going back many years, of young people who have been transformed by the "Operation Flinders" experience. The one phrase I heard more often than any other was, "We do this for the kids."
This program is life-altering, with strong evidence of improvements in the wellbeing, outlook and behaviour of participants when they return home. Based on compassion and respect, it is designed to fire their imaginations and encourage them to consider what life can hold for them in the future. Most powerfully, they begin to believe, "If I can do this, I can do anything!"
Operation Flinders receives support from the SA state government and other generous benefactors by way of funds, goods and services. But there is much more to do. John Shepherd, the CEO, has a vision: with more support - from government, corporations and individuals - they could assist so many more kids who need a chance to turn their lives around.
PS. As for me, my challenge was to abseil for the first time - from the top of a 30m cliff... Although I'm afraid of heights, I managed to achieve it thanks to two great instructors and my "team" of fellow visitors cheering me on from the bottom! It was exhilarating!