I’ve worked on a lot of youth-orientated programmes, such as John Muir Award, DofE, Adventure Service Challenge, Scouts and Girl Guiding, so when I was looking at freelance work to cover the month of July I thought I’d give NCS a go.
Now, I’ve been on the National Citizenship Service (NCS) programmes for the past couple of weeks as an instructor but not a leader. It is a scheme that is a four phase programme designed to end with a social action project involving the participants’ local community. The first phase is the ‘Adventure phase’ where young people camp away from home and partake in adventurous, outdoor activities. The second is a residential at a university so they can experience what this will involve; the third is planning the social action and the forth is running the social action then the students will ‘graduate’ from the scheme.
So I have just completed the first phase with a Swindon, Weston and Bristol group as Wave Leader in the Brecon Beacons and it was eventful.
The views were lovely as we were camped by Llangorse lake and the site was at the multiactivity centre near the town. On-site they have a riding centre (which we didn’t use), high ropes and an indoor climbing/abseiling and caving area.
So, I mentioned it was an eventful week; during the midweek we had an overnight thunderstorm and heavy rain which kept a lot of the young people out of their tents at 2am trying to hide in the toilets – how did I know this? I was sat in the toilet block reception area bit with one participant waiting whilst their parent came to pick them up (the thunder etc was too much for them)!
The tents themselves weren’t the best, so rainwater did get in. This involved the mentors staying off activities the next day to put the sleeping bags and roll mats out to dry in the sun, whilst leaders keep things as normal and took the kids on activities – I was spending the day driving to the A&E and Minor Injuries Units to transport young people for various issues (of which, some of the trips weren’t even required!).
At this point, I had been awake for over 24 hours! I think I lasted a good 36 hours before things calmed down enough for me to sleep…
It was interesting to work with team leaders and mentors of varying experiences – from the ones who had done this before, to the overly cautious ones who thought a lot of ‘bumps and scrapes’ meant a trip to A&E (unfortunately, it meant the mentors saw their share of the inside of a hospital!)… from the leaders who just managed things on their own to others who had to ask your permission for every little thing… and from the leaders who had to tell you everything they were doing to those that did things without consulting and causing more issues to deal with.
So I think I had fun. Working with such a variety of people required a lot of different leadership and management styles and my previous experience certainly helped in certain situations – the girl who suddenly got “worse” with her aliments when friends were nearby, organising the site after the storm, time management and dealing with incidents and the head office when it seemed like no one knew what was going on.
Next week is phase 2, which will be in Bristol at student accommodation there. This is a three-week programme so phase 2 and 3 are combined in one week and I think they’ll enjoy it although, activities will be more classroom-based and they will have to cook their own meals and keep their rooms clean – for some, that might be a challenge!
I have a lot more stories I could tell, but in this public social media platform, it wouldn’t be acceptable. Let’s just say, I hope next week goes as well as this one did (despite the rain…)