Man vs Wild in Northland bush

By Kristin Edge

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Battling wet weather, cooking a pig on an open fire and crashing through dense bush sounds like an episode from the hit television show Man vs Wild with action-man Bear Grylls.

Instead it was all part of a real-life experience for 32 young men selected from nine different schools for a Youth Leadership Camp run by Northland police as a Blue Light initiative.

It is the second year the camp has been run on a rural farm near Whangaruru which pushes a group of talented youth outside their comfort zones and hones their leadership skills.

Camp co-ordinator Constable Troy Netzler said it was a rewarding experience as it allowed police to work with youth in a positive light and encourage them to make good decisions.

"The goal was to give the kids an opportunity to do some fun activities and at the same time, grow their leadership skills."

It also broke down barriers between youth and the police, he said.

"It was an opportunity to make great mates between the different schools."

Seeing the young men gain in confidence over the four days was a great result.

"The police were extremely impressed with the quality of young men. The older ones set a great example for the younger ones and all of them worked as a team."

Wet weather forced the organisers to shuffle the schedule.

Tents were pitched under the roof of a huge implement shed at Mike Bennett's farm.

The theme for the four days was Man versus Wild.

"They didn't have the luxury of a flush toilet," Mr Netzler said.

They had to collect wood in the rain to spark fires to cook on.

All cooking was done by the students over an open fire, including a challenge for four groups to cook parts of a pig. One group had to smoke the eels they caught.

"They had to figure out how they were going to cook it - they had to be creative."

Kamo High School student Luke Errington said the rough weather made the camp extremely challenging but equally as rewarding after they battled through the tasks.

"The team spirits were down at some points but we got over it and got everyone's input for the challenges."

One of those was cooking a pig's head over an open fire.

After singing the hairs off, the head went into a pot and boiled for a couple of hours.

The end result was delicious.

"It was really good. We threw in a few onions and potatoes and the meat was just falling off the bone."

The 17-year-old said the motorbike challenge was adrenaline pumping and the most fun.

He described the camp as an eye-opener and is now considering joining the police and progressing into the youth aid section.

Whangarei Boys' High School student Joel Tugagacrct said the highlight was motorbiking in the mud.

He managed to catch the biggest eel and was involved with his team in cooking it and then eating the fishy delight.

Learning to work in as a team was also a highlight, according to the 14-year-old.nts

- Northern Advocate

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