It was a week I couldn’t wait for, yet a week I knew I would have to be prepared for, both mentally and physically. We headed down to Tamaki Leadership Centre, Whangaparaoa, with a bus full of 60 strangers on our last week of school for Term 1, where we would learn about each of the services in the Defence Force. They were the Navy, Airforce and Army! A week of discipline, uniformity, PT sessions, food, 5am wake ups, 10pm sleeps and a whole lot of left, right, left. At first, it was not what I expected it to be, however it turned out way better than I thought. We were sleeping in barracks filled with 20 girls, who soon became close friends, as well as on the top bunks dying for phone service. Yet the next few days were full on and it was something I know I wouldn’t forget.
Day 2 was our first full day – Navy day! We went to the Naval Base in Devonport, learnt about Navy life and the trades they had for offer like diving, logistics and communications. This was something I was interested in the most, but I couldn’t bare standing for hours listening to people talk. I learnt a lot about electronics, systems used in the Navy ships, flags, Morse code and even got to go into the office of the Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Rear Admiral John Martin. Following this, we came back for our fitness tests which included the beep test, push-ups and curl ups.
Day 3 was Air Force day in which I thought turned out to be more exciting than what I initially assumed. In the morning we got stuck in group activities that built our teamwork and mind skills to solve or build things, and then together we conquered the confidence course. It was a good bonding session with the other trainees and made us stick very close together. After this, we headed out to Whenuapai Airbase where we learnt about the Air Force. We saw their very own on-site Fire Department, and learnt about the simulators, parts used in the planes, electronics and communications side, and even got to board Aircraft C-130H Hercules- which was my highlight of the day.
Lastly, on day 4, we experienced some of the Army Life. We played with the guns and pistols that they used as well as trying out equipment like backpacks, radios and even the food rations. I realised that the Army definitely takes a bigger leap out into the bush, with a lot of tactical and skill work needed in order to solve things. The whole week had taught me many things about the Defence Force and what those who had joined had been through, and how much they sacrifice to serve our country. This week was such an eye-opening experience for me, and really helped me with my career choice. If you ever get the chance to go on it, do it. You’ll meet so many new people, enjoy heaps of yummy food, have 2-minute showers, a whole lot of cleaning, but gain respect and discipline in return. 🙂
Written by Caitlin Lorigan