Drone flying lessons, emergency rescue training and making lifelong friends are on offer for teenagers who join the Auckland organisation Youth Search And Rescue (YSAR).
The three-year training programme consists of outdoor education, search, rescue and emergency response methodologies, and leadership and incident management. Applications are now open for this highly regarded programme, which accepts up to 24 new trainees each year. Successful students participate in a weekly lesson and regular weekend outdoor training exercises that focus on survival, rescue and geotechnical data-gathering skills. The three-year course teaches students to take care of themselves in difficult outdoor environments and eventually help police and skilled volunteers with official searches. Along the way, students aged 14 and over collect first aid and other qualifications, trial specialist technical equipment and aim to complete the Duke of Edinburgh programme.
Applications for next year’s intake close on September 27.
“We have some really exciting new developments in what’s already an enormously impressive and often life-changing programme,” says YSAR founder Steve Campbell. “Two years ago, a small group of YSAR students flew to San Francisco to participate in an international exchange programme with a search and rescue organisation there. We’ve now established very strong ties with the phenomenal Marin County SAR group in northern California, which led to our visit there and a personal meeting with the United States ambassador to New Zealand. We’ve hosted some of their youth members and they’re keen for us to come back to join the major search and rescue exercise they hold in Yosemite National Park each year. It’s an incredible opportunity for some lucky YSAR students in the future.”
Steve says volunteer work is part of the YSAR course and both current and past students make a major contribution to the community. “Some of these young people will very likely go on to save lives.” He credits much of the programme’s success to the leadership and knowledge of trainers who include people with military and medical backgrounds, outdoor education specialists, police officers and firefighters.
Since YSAR was launched in 2008 in response to an aging search and rescue volunteer base, it has surpassed all expectations and attracted interest from throughout New Zealand and around the world, including Canada and Singapore. More than 450 students have graduated from the programme, which expanded from Tauranga into the Auckland region three years ago. “Being a YSAR graduate truly does open up a world of possibilities to these young people and they find having this on their resume is a big help when applying for jobs or further education.”
For more information and an application form, please visit ysar.org.nz.