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Ashburton deputy mayor Liz McMillan with some of the participants on the recent Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course at Burnham. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Ashburton deputy mayor Liz McMillan has stepped outside of her comfort zone and enjoyed a taste of a course a designed to build confidence, skills and resilience in young people.

She has hiked, camped remotely, learnt survival skills and tackled a confidence course.

Over a five week period the Methven resident has juggled council duties with her role as patron of the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course, which is run in conjunction with the NZ Defence Force and Ministry of Social Development (MSD) at Burnham Military Camp.

The live-in course is offered to young people aged 17-24 and usually runs for six weeks, but was shortened because of covid.

Ms McMillan said she had thoroughly enjoyed her taste of the LSV course.

It had been a rewarding experience and a complete change of environment for her.

She said it had been illuminating to see the change in the young people who took part in the course.

They had built up friendships, toughened up mentally and physically and were a pleasure to be around.

Ms McMillan attended the opening and welcome of the course at Burnham and a week later had a taste of field exercises at Orton Bradley Park.

On the at 5am around Rolleston and then completed a number of team activities, including tug-a-war.

She attended an employers expo run by MSD and a week later camped, hiked and completed a river crossing near Mt White.

“The staff were amazing and helped the participants get so much out of the course.

“A total of 51 trainees graduated and many told me how proud they were to finish it.”

Ms McMillan offered to be a referee for graduates and some had taken her up on the offer.

There had been no young people from Ashburton on the course this time, but there had been in the past and useful connections had been made, she said.

In 2020 Ashburton mayor Neil Brown was patron of the LSV course. Ms McMillan is trying to persuade fellow district councillors to step up as patron for the course which is helping young people improve their lives, motivation and job prospects.

-By Mick Jensen