Leap of faith as Red Frog volunteers tackle schoolies week

PAYING $300 each, the guardian angels of schoolies week are preparing to care of your teenagers, walk them home, clean up their rooms and cook up batches of pancakes. They'll even take the phone calls from worried parents to keep watch over errant offspring.

The 1300-strong volunteers, better known as the Red Frogs, comprise Christian volunteers who minister to teenagers at the annual festivals of post-Year 12 debauchery around the country.

At last year's schoolies, Tom Decent and his mates invited the Red Frogs to their room most mornings.

"I would text them when we were out and say we want pancakes at 10 tomorrow morning,'' said the 19-year-old who graduated from Colo High School at North Richmond last year. ''It was the best thing ever. They [the Red Frogs] are just everywhere. You couldn't miss them."

The Red Frogs, who started at the Gold Coast in 1997, now cover 17 schoolies destinations across Australia. Seven hundred are based at the Gold Coast, the epicentre for schoolies celebrations which start this weekend with Queensland week. The following two weeks are for NSW and Victorian students.

Most of the volunteers are aged between 18 and 25 and they pay a registration fee of about $300, which helps cover expenses like accommodation, uniform and insurance.

''It really is just people who have a genuine heart and want to make sure young people are safe,'' said Simeon Hoffmann, who has been a Red Frogs volunteer for nine years.

It was not until the end of the schoolies week that Tom Decent realised the group had religious affiliations.

"We wondered why they were doing it and someone said they were Christian and we thought 'but they haven't tried to read any passages to us or anything'," he said.

The volunteers expect to hand out about 4 tonnes of red frog lollies across the schoolies period.

The Red Frogs hotline is 1300 557 123.

The story Leap of faith as Red Frog volunteers tackle schoolies week first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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