Camp breaks barriers

"It's a pity we can't do it more often."

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
Ross Pounds and  Blake Marston
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

BIG RED: Firefighters Ross Pounds and Blake Marston tell children at a Red Cross camp all about their fire engine.

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It was a change of scene for two New Plymouth policemen yesterday who were judging meals whipped up by 12-year-old masterchefs as part of a Red Cross youth camp.

No Limits is a three-day programme aimed at the personal development of youth through a mix of outdoor education skills and activities that encouraged them to push their limits.

New Zealand Police, Fire Service, Army and Surf Life Saving provided education modules on search and rescue, fire safety and water safety.

The kids also made their own lunch in the style of Masterchef, which was judged by the police.

Organiser Karen Lawson said the camp was a great way to break down barriers with organisations like the police.

"They're seeing the police in a completely different light."

Activities were led by youth leaders, including three Otago University students, high school students and a doctor, she said.

Sergeant Andrew Ross said it was refreshing to work with youth in a positive environment.

"We interact with the kids in a different way. It's a pity we can't do it more often."

He said it was an important age to kids to be exposed to good adult mentors.

"They're starting to form some strong views on life at this age and positive role models are really important."

He said any initial hostility toward the police uniform soon wore off.

"Sometimes you get a couple of surly ones that are giving us the evils on day one, but by day 3 they're giving you heaps."

Ms Lawson said the programme aimed to build kids' self confidence, expose them to positive role models and get them working in teams.

"It's amazing how you see them develop over the three days," she said.

She said two kids who arrived as nervous non-swimmers on day 1 were out the back of the surf at East End beach by day 2.

Organiser Candace Noyes said Red Cross was looking at running the programme in Christchurch and the Hawke's Bay next year following its success in Taranaki.

She was pleased with how this year's programme had gone so far.

"This has been an awesome group of kids."

The 23 participants were nominated by a number of organisations in New Plymouth that deal with youth.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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