A camp for teenagers is the perfect training ground for Whangārei man Shaquille Newton who's studying to be a youth leader.

The 22-year-old is among 17 youths from Whangārei and more than 5000 throughout New Zealand attending a Baptist Church-organised national youth camp at Mystery Creek in Hamilton during this long weekend.

The youth camp will run programmes such as mud running, basketball, obstacle courses, speeches, and social interactions to help participants make better life choices.

Newton is doing foundation studies at the Salvation Army to become a youth leader and is excited at being part of the youth camp for the first time.

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"I heard about it in church last year and have been listening to all the good stories from there so I decided to give it a shot this time round. Am interested to be among like-minded people," he said.

Newton said a tough upbringing where he acted as a mentor for his younger cousins inspired him to pursue a career in youth leadership.

Salvation Army Whangārei social worker Wi Pirihi said the youth camp would be a good experience for young people in that it would challenge them to be better in various aspects of life.

"It's about issues facing youths and how to address them. Their spiritual wellbeing, making long lasting friendships, cultural diversity between Māori and Pākehā so it's about their growth and development."