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We chat to four inspiring young NSRI volunteers about why they joined, their goals within the organisation and what Youth Month means to them.

Monique Crewe, 24

Station 25 (Hartbeespoort)

I love my family, but joining the NSRI was like getting a whole extra family of people that have my back and teach me how to be an amazing person. NSRI welcomes young people with open arms and guides us step by step.

Since I joined in 2018, I have grown into a responsible young adult as the NSRI offers structure and responsibility, all while having fun. I’ve learnt a lot of rescue techniques, medical skills, how to work with different people in different circumstances, and how to uplift and help my immediate community.

We even started a youth programme in our area to get more young people invested in NSRI and helping their community.

My goal is to one day become Station Commander of Station 25, teach younger people what the NSRI is all about, and maybe make a difference in their lives.

Youth Day reminds us to focus on the youth and what they need, what they are going through. At our station, we invite young people to join us for some basic first aid and get to know the crew and what we do.

Mark McLagan, 20

Station 17 (Hermanus)

My experience with the NSRI has always been an amazing one. It started when I was 14, but even when I used to hang out on the beach before that, I was welcomed with open arms.

Being part of the organisation has taught me more than I can put into words. I use a lot of the practical skills I’ve learnt in my everyday life, whether it’s helping out a friend who has had an accident, or can’t get something secured onto the car. I’ve learnt a lot about mechanics – how things work and how to fix something if it breaks – which has proved to be very useful. The inner workings of our vessels are fascinating to me.

Everyone at our station is so tightly knit – we really are a big family. It’s helped me grow into the person I’ve become. I now understand the value of teamwork. One person can’t always get everything done – you have to trust others and include everyone’s unique strengths to get the job done.

I don’t see myself ever leaving the organisation; the people are phenomenal. I’m currently doing my class 4 coxswain training. I see myself becoming a coxswain and moving up the ranks. No matter where I am, I plan to be part of the NSRI somehow.

To me, Youth Day is a day to celebrate the youth, and also remember past struggles. For me, it’s about appreciating the value and keen spirit that the youth of South Africa has today.

Guillaume Muir, 19

Station 31 (Stilbaai)

My dad, John Muir, founded Station 31, so I’ve been here ever since I can remember. He passed away when I was 4 years old – after that, his friend Rico Menezies became Station Commander, and I’ve remained there to this day.

I’ve always been treated with respect, even though I’m often much younger than others on the training courses. If you show the ‘ou toppies’ that you are serious about what you’re doing, they will treat you like a crew member, not a kid.

In that time, I’ve learnt a lot about rescue and the ocean, but the most important thing I’ve learnt is how to make decisions in and out of the NSRI. If you’re wondering whether to join, just do it. It’s the single best decision I’ve ever made – but remember, you also have to put in the time and work.

Kayla van Heerden, 22

Station 5 (Durban)

I am currently in my third year at UKZN, studying Chemical Engineering, and as a result, I don’t have a lot of spare time. That said, volunteering is the perfect excuse to leave my studies for a while and connect with people.

The NSRI is very welcoming to all volunteers, regardless of age. There is so much encouragement. But because I am so much younger, I get a lot more support from the older volunteers. We all want to see each other succeed.

Volunteering has taught me discipline, patience, perseverance and trust. Ultimately, what you put in is what you get out. I’ve also learnt how to network and interact with other people – which is important as I’m a very shy and introverted person. It’s definitely taught me how to come out of my shell a bit more.

You learn so many valuable life skills along the way. Just a few examples: how to change a tire, what oils to check and where to find them, what changes need to be made to a vehicle to travel on loose sand safely, the phonetic alphabet and when to use all of the infamous knots.

It also forces you to keep fit, as you never know what kind of circumstances you could find yourself in while on call!

I would encourage any young person to join the NSRI. It’s so much fun, there’s so much to learn, and everyone is more than happy to help and teach. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the theory and knowledge you need to be a volunteer, you learn it all as you go.

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