By Derek Schlennstedt
When Jett Farrar’s parents broke the ‘exciting news’ that he would be spending the school holidays on the Gold Coast, the 17-year-old from Belgrave South imagined a fun-filled vacation of sight-seeing and relaxing on the sunny beaches.
What Jett did not anticipate was that he would be actually taking part in a 9-day military-style boot camp to help him build resilience, discipline and leadership skills, all while staying in a remote corner of the Gold Coast hinterland.
The intensive program involves teens and tweens getting back to nature and learning how to communicate without any technology, all while pushing their personal limits.
It is the brainchild of Veteran Mentors, a group of ex-servicemen and women who wanted to use their combat experience and military training to help children who are facing a range of issues such as technology addiction, bullying and low self-esteem.
According to Jett, prior to going to the camp he had been addicted to technology and had no drive to complete schoolwork.
“My parents didn’t think I’d be able to handle coming here – not having access to technology,” said Jett.
“I always used the excuse that I had nothing else to do, which left me with no drive to do anything.”
After just five days with the Veteran Mentors team, he said he felt ‘a lot better’ than when he first arrived.
“At first I was nervous and scared, but I feel a lot better now. I have a good team working with me,” said Jett.
“Each morning we complete physical training sessions and I really enjoy feeling good about myself afterwards – especially knowing that my team helped me through it.”
Jett said when he returned home, he would be focused on harnessing everything he learned to find better things to do with his time.
“I’ve learnt some pretty cool skills, and I’m excited to share those with my family,” said Jett.
Former Australian Army Combat Engineer and now Director of Veteran Mentors Troy Methorst said he and the other military veterans were all about helping kids, just like Jett, become accountable for their behaviour and decisions.
“A group of us put our heads together and realised that we had knowledge and experience that could really help the younger generation,” said Mr Methorst, who served in Afghanistan and East Timor.
“Our programs are ideal for 12 to 17-year-old children demonstrating poor behaviours, low selfesteem, lack of respect, addiction to technology, issues with drugs and alcohol, or simply to propel them to reach their fullest potential.
“It can also help those who are anxious and struggling to find their place in this busy world. Some of the children who come on the program are facing difficulties at home – often with separated, divorced or seriously ill parents.”
The Veteran Mentors also do motivational speaking and smaller team building sessions at schools, as well as parent workshops. The next program is set to run from 29 September to 7 October