The final day of Gisborne’s first boot camp for teenagers saw a mix of chosen leaders, “middle-of-the-roaders” and at-risk youth from Lytton High in team-building activities like towing a fire engine 500 metres along Gladstone Road.
People came out of shops to cheer on the students. Known as Cactus (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support), the programme of physical training was developed from the armed forces and is designed to extend a young person’s mental and physical capabilities.
The end of the seven-week programme was called “the longest day” and was run as a civil defence exercise. Students were told a tsunami had hit Gisborne and washed out Gladstone Road Bridge.
They had to light fires to signal a ship, build a shelter and transfer goods across the river to reach the people of Kaiti.