The reality was completely different.
Jamie, a year 12 student from the Rangiora New Life School, found the intensive course to be life-changing, graduating with the top two awards — The Warrant Officer of the Defence Force’s Award for Leadership and the Patron Award for All Round Excellence.
Jamie, 17, completed the six-week-long Ministry for Social Development's Limited Service Volunteer course at Burnham Military Camp recently.
‘‘I’ve learned heaps from it. All about how to boost my self-esteem, to value my worth, to be responsible for my time, to respect others, to work as a team and be resilient.’’
Her mum Delwyn Harvey helped her apply.
She thought she was going to attend the course in February next year.
‘‘Then they called and said I’m on the next course in October.’’
As she had already completed her assessments for NCEA, her school gave her an early release.
Jamie says the first days at Burnham went in a blur.
‘‘It was information overload, it took a week just to learn how to survive daily there.’’
When to get up, when to eat, when to clean up and when to sleep. Once she got her head around it all, she says she ‘‘loved it’’.
‘‘It was hard having limited access to my cellphone and every bit of communication had to be done by mail, so I learned how to write a letter.’’
She says the tension of waiting for a letter to arrive was something she had never experienced before.
Used to sleeping in a queen sized bed at home in Loburn, Jamie quickly discovered all she had was a single bed in a shared room with another Christchurch girl.
‘‘She was lovely, just like all the people on the course. I have made so many new lifelong friends.’’ Her biggest shock was the fitness. ‘‘I hated fitness at school, but now I love being fit and ready to do anything.”
The course is aimed at building the skills employers are looking for – reliability, teamwork and leadership, communication and a positive attitude.
Jamie is now keen to enter the Air Force as a dog handler.