What to expect: a JLP parent takes you through their journey

I am writing to thank the VM team for their efforts with our son’s Cristos and Alessio, and hope that any parent considering the VM program may be at ease after reading our family’s Journey.

We have chosen on both occasions to enrol our boys at the younger age of 12 years old, with VM programs running conveniently 2 weeks prior to the commencement of school as they transition into senior school (Year 7).

Cristos (JLP 18- JAN 2021) – A boy whom is polite and well- mannered, respectful and confident, athletic, competitive by nature, looks forward to attending school and is more than helpful around the home with chores and helping his younger siblings at any given time he is called upon.

One may ask, why would you need to send a well-rounded child to such a program.

Our decision to enrol our first son Cristos in 2021, was calculated with intention that the VM program would help grow his Leadership skills, confidence, resilience, maturity, strength and fitness and most importantly adapt to the daunting real-life situation of being dropped to a 9-day camp with total strangers.

After 9 long anxious days our son returned home from camp, very tired, very accomplished but there was definitely something different about Cristos, we were yet to figure out.

One week later an eager and excited Cristos commenced Year 7 at senior school, which he had looked forward to all holidays. This first week of year 7 was saddened by loss of my father whom had lost his 12month battle to pancreatic cancer. Cristos and my father shared a close bond together and it was a difficult time for all of our family.

We thought the stress of year 7 whilst coping with the passing his grandfather may get the better of our 12-year-old boy, so we closely consoled and monitored our son over the next month with support of his school (Trinity grammar) as we believed at some point our son would break.

The day of my father’s Funeral Cristos was courageous enough to deliver a powerful and moving eulogy on behalf of our family as it was Cristos who said. “The eldest grandchild should read the eulogy. All funeral attendees commented on the display of strength, resilience and courage that was displayed by Cristos.

Cristos adapted to high school effortlessly and within his first month received numerous merits for class engagement and academic achievement.

It was now apparent what the difference was in our son post camp, that we were yet to realise.

He had grown so much as he was mentally stronger, courageous, resilient, positive in dealing with stress and anxiety within the personal challenges he had recently faced, but most importantly he had started to develop leadership skills, as it was Cristos who led by example with the decision that it should be him read the eulogy.

We gave VM’s a well-rounded boy and 9 Days later that boy was returned as a well-rounded young teen ready to face any challenge that may lay ahead.

A year on and Cristos is continuing to achieve goals in both academic and sporting areas of his senior school journey and continues to support our family unit whenever he is called upon. Further-more a true testament to the skills he has developed from VM’s is his resilience and discipline and adaption to sudden life changes such as covid 19 lockdowns, school shutdowns (remote learning) as we know he has maintained a positive study and fitness regime throughout the past 12 months of disruptions.

Alessio (JLP26 JAN 2022) – a boy athletically gifted and competitive by nature whom has won many sports awards including age champion every year throughout his entire prep school journey and graduated prep school as a perfect role model student. How-ever the covid lockdowns had clearly left our son less motivated, less confident and a little too dependent on technology as that was the only means of keeping in touch with school peers during school shutdowns. He constantly needed motivation and was always lagging behind in the mornings to get ready for school and also lacked patience when dealing with his younger brother whom often seeks attention of Alessio and Cristos.

With our sons 8-week school holiday break during Christmas we knew it would be best to send our second son to the VM camp to get away from all distractions of technology and possibly give him a reset prior to his commencement of senior school.

After the 9-day program our son returned and results where clearly evident, he was glowing, his sleep pattern had completely changed as he was going to bed earlier and rising earlier and still continues to do so, he is always first to be ready for school in the mornings which was the opposite last year and has transitioned into Senior school effortlessly, He is doing multiple afternoons of sports training including 2 days swimming, track and field sprints and shotput, as he conditions his body for the winter rugby union season all whilst he represents his school in the weekly intraschool basketball competition.

He is a lot less tech addicted and has a good study regime, but still needs encouragement from time to time as per advice from your parent workshops.

We knew the camp was a success for Alessio before he even got home, as the night before march-out parade we received correspondence of a positive covid case and we could collect Alessio the night before. When we called to see if he wanted to be picked up and Alessio was asked by your staff, he shrugged it off and responded “nah tell him don’t drive down its late, just come in the morning” as per original pick-up date,  It was a clear indication that he had grown resilience, confidence and adapted to the environment and was comfortable to spend the extra night, in-fact he was so disappointed the march our was cancelled and he could not eat the brownies promised by you guys after the 9-day sugar free detox.

Reconnection expeditions – 3 days paddling a canoe/2 nights camping

Our VM experience has been the further enriched with your reconnection expeditions where we have participated in 3 expeditions to date. A one-of-a-kind experience that both my wife and I will never forget. It has given us opportunity to connect with our boys that would be impossible in day-to-day life where we are surrounded by so many distractions.

The enhanced discussion around camp fires and hearing another person’s story has been empowering, humbling and inspiring and has given courage for myself to be vulnerable in the presence of my family and strangers on the camp when I have told my story. It has helped me grieve the loss of my father which been very difficult for me to deal with.

I look forward to many more expeditions to come as it is such a good reset from the tech driven society, we find ourselves living in.

Parent Workshops

My wife and I have both attended various parental workshops and they have been very insightful and informative. We have learnt so many various discussion and parenting techniques covering how we can reach the same goal simply by addressing a situation in a certain way. Not only are these techniques applied in our home, I have found them so helpful in the day to day running of my business and managing multiple employees.

The workshops have broadened our perspective on what risks and impacts excess technology and social media is having on our younger society as our boys are part of that generation and with information you have provided and our continued due diligence as parent’s we are more confident, we can positively navigate our boys in their journey.

As a family that has experienced the full VM journey on multiple occasions we cannot thank your team of dedicated individuals enough, their passion towards mentoring and helping youth is inspiring and I am certain they have helped many families in so many different ways. The confidence and courage that the mentors instil into the youth is like no other, the fact that both our 12 years old boys have no jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet is a feat that most individuals may not even consider throughout their whole life.

The program definitely has been enlightening for our sons to hear the stories and journeys of other children that may have found themselves in less fortunate situations in life.

I would not hesitate in recommending your program to anyone who may be considering sending their child, furthermore I understand that there are families that may be in less fortunate financial situations and that is why my wife and I have decided under our company SAND4U, would like the opportunity to sponsor a child in one of the next upcoming camps.

We know Veteran mentors Programs do change lives and we want to be part of that journey

The Veteran Mentors would like to thank the Caridi family for their candid account of attending our programs and their very generous offer of sponsorship for a child into the JLP program. We will be consulting with families to determine the beneficiary of this placement in the coming weeks. 

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