Schoolies is well under way, as year 12 students across the country flock to warmer zones to celebrate the end of school.
But while the 18-year-olds party, another group of young people will be busy making late-night pancakes and fielding calls from worried teens.
The Red Frogs crew, about 1500 of them, head to schoolies hot spots in Australia and around the world to offer support throughout the week. As well as manning the Red Frogs hotline, the volunteers walk schoolies back to their hotels, clean up rooms, build friendships and provide emotional support to the teens through hotel chaplaincies.
A group of about 20 Illawarra Red Frogs is heading to Surfers Paradise this weekend.
Elenie Van Der Merwe, 22, said she wanted schoolies to feel they could turn to someone if they were in trouble.
‘‘There might be a problem and they have no idea what to do – especially if they’re in a situation they’ve never been in before,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re closer to their age, so they’re more likely to chat to us if something has happened.
‘‘We’re all for them having fun – we just want them to stay safe.’’
Alyssa Coote and Isaac Beard are also volunteering next week. Ms Coote has gone to the Gold Coast as a Red Frog for the past four years. Mr Beard is heading there for the first time.
The trio agreed the best advice they could give schoolies was to never leave a friend behind and to take care of themselves.
‘‘And keep in contact with their parents, even if it’s a two-second phone call, just to let them know they’re okay – to keep the stress levels of their parents low,’’ Mr Beard said.
Though the celebrations ‘‘officially’’ kicked off last Saturday, more NSW and Victorian school leavers head to Queensland from this weekend.
Schoolies are being reminded of the risks of binge drinking, swimming after consuming alcohol and taking drugs during their end-of-year parties.
If schoolies find themselves or a friend in trouble, they should call youth workers, emergency services or triple-0.