‘Boot camp’ brings out best
A group of young, unemployed people from Porirua celebrated going the extra mile to give themselves ‘‘ another chance’’ during a ceremony last week.
The 20 recent graduates of the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course – a rigorous six-week, voluntary programme run by the New Zealand Defence Force – told their stories to Mayor Nick Leggett, MP Kris Faafoi, city councillors and a group of employers in the council chambers.
What they had to say was ‘‘ inspiring’’, Mr Leggett said afterwards.
The course consists of teambuilding exercises, skills in communication, presentation, financial management, job interview techniques, and participants get a feel for what it’s like to work an eight-hour day.
The graduates, aged 17 to 25, had their hair cut off on day one and were woken at the crack of dawn every day thereafter.
In some cases, NZDF staff would encounter psychological and anger management issues.
Although it takes place in a military environment and uses military bases like Trentham and Burnham, with the young people expected to wear a uniform, external providers such as WINZ and Ministry of Social Development
Twenty young men and women from Porirua finished off a morning in the city council chambers, where their recent graduation from a volunteer course was celebrated, with a rousing haka. provide assistance.
Graduates spoke of having pride in their platoon, making friends, learning new skills, engaging in fantastic outdoor activities, and, importantly, working hard to make a change in themselves.
Tyrone did the course in August and said, while he wasn’t a bad person beforehand, he ‘‘ wasn’t good either’’.
‘‘I loved the physical parts of the course,‘‘ he said. ‘‘While I was pushed to my limits emotionally and mentally, I loved it.’’
Dylan, another graduate, said he had had ‘‘the wrong attitude’’.
‘‘I was going nowhere and doing lots of drugs and alcohol’’.
On the course, he said, he achieved things he thought he could not and his prospects were now much brighter.
Jay said doing the course helped him kick-start his quest to get his NCEA Level 2 and had ‘‘ created opportunities’’ in the workforce that were not possible before.
A number of participants had found employment, some were looking at further study or courses, while others were actively seeking work.
NZDF’s Peter Rowe, who was in charge of the course at Trentham, said its success is measured beyond what is achieved in the six-week time-frame.
To hear employers’ positive feedback made it worthwhile and he was ‘‘pretty damn proud’’ of the way this group had come through.
‘‘It’s mischievously called a boot camp but it’s more about motivational training, giving these guys life skills, a fresh start and another chance. The military component is minute – a lot of it is about domestic chores and life in the workforce.
‘‘They work as a team, and individually sometimes, and you can see the confidence and self-esteem it builds, the transformation is evident from day one. They are disciplined, loyal and committed.’’
But Mr Rowe said they do not always win. Two left the voluntary course early, and about a quarter of the 114 in the October LSV intake did not make it through, often due to injury.
Mr Leggett said it was important these young people were celebrated by the city, especially in a time of recession, as they were actively doing something to help find themselves work.
Mr Faafoi said they had challenged themselves and ‘‘ shown the strength to get through’’.
‘‘You could have said ‘I want to go home’ when it got hard. You should be proud of your efforts and I thank the local employers for giving these guys a go.’’
There are 15 courses scheduled for 2011.