Do you think bootcamp is a good way to help wayward teens?
Wide-eyed and wary, the newest recruits to a military-style life skills camp arrived for a shake-up to get them out of unemployment and into the real world.
For many of the 80 unemployed young people, the next six weeks at Trentham Military Camp will be a far cry from the life they are accustomed to.
Instead of sleeping in, they will be woken at dawn. Instead of spending the day socialising or playing video games, they will be put through physical fitness tests and be schooled on budgeting, conflict resolution and anger management.
Instead of doing what they want, when they want, they will face disciplinary measures from their instructors if they step even slightly out of line.
As they arrived yesterday in small groups from throughout the country, orders were barked at them to stand up straight, empty out their bags, sit down for a hair-cut. They were measured for new footwear and assigned uniforms, and some had personal items confiscated.
Squadron Leader Peter Rowe said the course aimed to ready the young people for living an independent and more disciplined life.
It would be tough but it was all part of the learning process, he said. "At the start, everyone will suffer, and a bit of peer pressure will come into it.
"To get them to do what we want them to do, to toe that line in the sand, we have to come at them ... shock and capture ... you are at them full noise, and as you see them respond, you back off."
Although some trainees were talking tough yesterday, several said they were unsure of what to expect. Some admitted they were downright frightened.
Squadron Leader Rowe said the three square meals a day would be better than some were used to but they would have to do without alcohol, junk food, drugs and would be allowed only limited cigarette breaks and cellphone use.
"We just put a line in the sand, `here are the rules and don't cross the boundaries'. We don't move that line like some parents do."
HOPE AND FEAR
Korotewhui Kuti, 19, Naenae
Korotewhui Kuti left school at 17 and went to work at McDonald's. The third youngest of nine children, Mr Kuti says things were a "bit rough" in Naenae and he used to get into a bit of trouble. His life at present consists of waking up in the afternoon, smoking, playing video games and "doing some stuff".
He is looking forward to the course because he wants to show his parents he is capable of great things. "They don't like me doing it because they think I might go to the army and move away from them. I'm excited for the physical side of it. I want to gain better knowledge and show my parents that I'm not a dick anymore."
Mr Kuti is worried the limited cellphone use will strain his relationship with his girlfriend but other than that has no problems with the disciplinary measures. He wants to get into bodyguarding for all the "top guns".
Ngaro Carroll, 20, Masterton
Ngaro Carroll has never worked before, dropped out of high school in year 10 and is dependent on her mother. She says she did not want to go through with the course but had no options.
"They have brought me in here to get my life to a point where I can motivate myself to get working. But I'm not even wanting to stay here. I'm frightened of what to expect."
Miss Carroll dreams of moving to Wellington and working to support herself through a hairdressing course. She says she hopes the course will help her learn to manage her life better, but she isn't sure she could survive "people yelling in her face".
Her five siblings and mother have been supportive of the idea and the good the course could do for her future.
Cameron Roberts, 19, Upper Hutt
An only child, Mr Roberts left school when he was 16 and went on to work at a few odd jobs. He says he is most worried about the whole "no weekend" thing and having to wake up early every day.
"I'm looking forward to the physical part, it's the not being able to argue thing ... I have no choices but to be here but am planning on staying the whole time. You need to make the most of it."
Mr Roberts says his friends don't think he will make it to the end but his parents had been supportive. He wants to come out of the course with a job – something full-time that will keep him busy and where he could be "hands on".
WHAT ARE THEY IN FOR?
- Six weeks of what is essentially boot camp.
- Arrive with one bag, which is searched and cellphones confiscated.
- Boys have their head shaved (girls have to wear hair in a bun, although some choose to be shaved) and are given uniforms and new shoes.
- Limited contact with family.
- Woken up at 5.30am every day and in bed by 10pm.
- Put through army-style fitness training through confidence courses and high ropes.
- Punishments could include carrying a 5kg rock around or extra push-ups.
- No alcohol, no drugs, no talking back, no misbehaving.
- The "Longest Day" to push them to the very limit: get up at 4am and do exercises with no set end time.
- A five-day tramp through the Tararua Ranges near end of course.
Limited Service Volunteer training:
- A six-week voluntary course aimed at long-term unemployed people between the ages of 18 and 25.
- Courses are now held at Trentham, Hobsonville and Burnham.
- The first was held in 1993 at Burnham. The courses expanded throughout the country in 2010.
- Since 2010, 2892 people have been through the programmes nationwide.
- Fifteen courses are scheduled for this year.
- Funding of the scheme is subsidised by an annual grant from the Social Development Ministry. The course costs the Government $5000 a person.
- People who complete one course are ineligible to do it again.
- Roughly six per cent of trainees leave the course for disciplinary reasons.
- Figures kept since 2008 show that 53 per cent of LSV trainees have gone on to further training or education in the first three months after completing the course.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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