Hero photograph
Photo by Lynley Gibson

Well done, Jasper!

Lynley Gibson —

Canterbury teens consider Air Force and Police Force after taking out top awards

Two Canterbury teens are now considering entering the Air Force and the Police Force after taking out the two top awards at Blue Light’s Life Skills programme at Burnham Military Base, 27 February to 3 March 2023. 

“I came into this camp looking to gather information on careers in the Defence Force, particularly the Air Force. They gave me information on all the questions which helped with my thought process about my future career a lot. It has been useful to see into life in the forces” states Jasper Robinson (15) from St Thomas of Canterbury College, Overall Excellence Award winner, as he reflects on his recent participation in the programme. 

Kyle Van Wyk (14) from St Bedes College, winner of the Overall Merit Award, comments on experience stating “I want to be in the Police Force one day and after having met a Police Officer who was a dog handler, I want to complete my studies to pursue this as a career option". 

Jasper and Kyle beat an exceptional group of young people from across Aotearoa to win their awards and Blue Light’s Youth Worker/Mentor Bree Meyer who attended the camp comments “Jasper was awarded the Overall Excellence Award through demonstrating the qualities of maturity, respect, intuition and through building individual and group mana and Kyle, the Overall Merit award, through his efforts to foster a team environment, encouragement and respectful communication with fellow team members”. 

The challenging part for both teens was getting to know all their fellow camp participants and working successfully as a team. “At this camp you are mixed and assorted with all different types of people and personalities, so it was a big step to come out of my comfort zone and meet new people” says Jasper. Kyle comments “the toughest challenge for me was when others didn’t follow instructions given by the staff and as punishment everyone had to do the drills. This taught me to encourage teamwork and following instructions”. 

Other challenges both Jasper and Kyle faced at the camp included the experiential learning activities of Hi Ropes, and Mega Air alongside Physical Training, Drill, swimming, Team Building games, Leadership exercises and Life Skills lessons. 

Highlights included a visit from the Police Dog Unit and seeing a Police dog and handler in action as well as exploring the International Antarctic Centre. 

Blue Light’s highly successful Life Skills programme has been run in partnership with NZ Defence Force for the past 12 years and has adventure-based experiential learning as a key part of the programme. The programme provides 14-17-year olds’ critical life skills such as self-development, self-control, and teamwork that will enable young people to be successful at home, school, communities, and employment. 

Up to 12 courses are held each year in Auckland, Taupo, Trentham, and Burnham locations.

For more information about the Blue Light Life Skills camps visit www.bluelight.co.nz. Blue Light is grateful for the support of the sponsorship of the Lion Foundation, and community supporters. 

New Zealand Blue Light 

Blue Light is a not-for-profit charity that works in partnership with the Police to create positive connections between young people and the Police, helping young people find direction, fun, and sense of belonging within their communities, enabling young people to develop life skills, leadership skills and find employment opportunities. 

Blue Light believes that it is through the empowerment of disadvantaged youth to reach their full potential that their overall wellbeing can be improved and in turn the wellbeing of their communities. 

Blue Light achieves this through removing the barriers for disadvantaged youth to participate positively in the community, through both its national and locally- based programmes, activities, and events. 

Blue Light’s work in the community is unique – it is not a one size fits all approach. We have 68 local branches working with NZ Police to create meaningful experiences for young people in their regions, including cultural, sporting, and educational activities that are alcohol, drug, and violence free. 

Although Blue Light is supported by Police, the two operate totally independently. 

For many participants, the programmes decrease the risk of youth offending and becoming victims of crime through access to positive role models, time with other young people away and the opportunity to see the world outside their current environment. 

Blue Light originally began in Australia as a community policing initiative and remains very strong in all the Australian states. As well as in New Zealand, it is now active in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Cook Islands, and Scotland. 

See www.bluelight.co.nz or visit www.facebook.com/nzbluelight 

Jasper trying on a police vest for size! — Image by: Lynley Gibson