The third Te Tai Tokerau Blue Light Ko Wai Au camp has been given the ultimate tick of approval by the participants, who reckoned it was "better than great".

Sixteen boys, aged 11 and 12, from Kaikohe, Kawakawa, Moerewa, Waitangi, Kerikeri and Kaeo took part in the police leadership camp at Lonsdale Park earlier this month. Feedback received by the police from parents included one youngster who described the experience as "hard, fun, and the best time of his life: he won't shut up about it".

Blue Light is a registered charity and community policing youth programme that has run activities for young people throughout New Zealand for more than 30 years. Constable Rob Cameron says the Far North camp included waka ama, bush walks with river crossings and survival skills, along with military disciplines such as standing to attention, forming up in rows, and attention to the boys' meals and rooms. The camp encouraged boys to take a leadership role with their peers and in their communities.

"Kids enjoy it, and thrive on the discipline," Mr Cameron said. "All the participants threw themselves into all the activities. It was a huge success. They love it, We got some really good feedback."

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The boys were divided into two teams, Ngahere, which won the Tough Team challenge, an obstacle course and run that required the boys to draw on all their resources, and Moana. The other officers who took part were constables Ihaka Lenden, Cole Lemalu, Roger Dephoff, Graham Howarth, and youth-at-risk worker Wally Te Huia.