Bad NCS Experience

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willsss
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#1
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#1
Before I start, I should probably point out a few things.

Firstly, NCS experiences can contrast greatly. It really depends not only on the area in which you do it, but also the people you do it with and your own personality. This is a very personal review, and will most likely be very different to your own. Secondly, this viewpoint will probably come across as quite pessimistic. Just remember: it’s not pessimism, it’s honesty.

I remember standing with my group, waiting for the coach to come and pick us up to take us to where we would be staying. Naturally, most people were quite awkward and shy, which was to be expected. What was not anticipated were a select few, very, very loud, individuals, who seemed to think that the whole programme had been organised for them. They had already formed a very weird friendship/obsession with the group leaders, acting as if they were best friends. The group leaders seemed to go along with this, and didn’t really make the effort to interact with the rest of us in the group. Already, we were feeling isolated.

It was within ten minutes of sitting on the bus that I realised that I had made a mistake. For three hours, we were subjected to screaming, food fights and music blasting out of speakers. I do realise that in writing this I sound like a miserable, irritable old teacher, but I was really not in the mood for it after the first hour. If you’re considering NCS, prepare yourself for the bus ride from hell.

We had been discouraged from bringing any form of entertainment: books, iPads, even phones, as we had been promised that we would have no free time at all as a result of the “jam packed schedule”. In truth, we spent more time doing nothing than we spent doing activities. We had three activities a day, the third being a smaller occasion such as “treasure hunt”, “quiz” or “team games” or something equally condescending. It seemed like zero thought or effort had gone into these. The “treasure hunt” required us to find a bottle lid, crisp packet or piece of plastic. It was essentially a glorified litter pick.

Some activities were really quite good, like kayaking and raft building. Unless you live near the South coast, you don’t get to do any of the fun water stuff like caving, jumping off cliffs, white water rafting etc. The rest of the activities were pretty much intolerable, and our team really just didn’t enjoy them. It was just really boring. Funnily enough, the previously mentioned loud, egotistical members of the team who had struck up the questionable friendship with the group leaders were somehow exempt from these activities. It seemed strange that they were always presented with the choice, but for us it was compulsory. There really was some sort of horrible sense that they were somehow better than the rest of us.

After the first week, my friend left because it was so bad. I had just got through a really tough week, and I didn’t want it to be all for nothing, and so I stayed on the programme. I was fairly optimistic that it couldn’t get much worse.

HOW WRONG I WAS.

I didn’t really see how the residential week could be worse, but it ended up being the longest five days of my life. We had to spend TWELVE HOURS a day in this college. It had been advertised as a week to help with employability skills, for example CV writing. We actually just spent the week playing games. We would sit in a cold sports hall for 3 hours every morning, doing “team building” (making towers out of spaghetti, chairs out of balloons). Another 3 were spent practicing for a talent show, which was pretty much the most important event of the week in the eyes of our group leaders, and thus had the most time dedicated to it. Our act was decided by one particularly loud member of the group, and no one else had any input. Again, certain members left us with the activities, and went and sat with the group leaders. It was genuinely an insult to our intelligence that the week that we experienced was so far from what had been promised, and so condescending. The length of the days was draining, and it was truly the unhappiest week of my life. We pretty much just spent the day watching the clock. As soon as I got home at midday on the Friday, I fell asleep. If there’s any way you can do NCS and not do the residential, I very much encourage you to do so, if you don’t want your mental health to be impaired.

Social Action was the only part I enjoyed. Of course, the majority of the group had no input whatsoever into the decision of what charity we should raise money for, but I didn’t really mind, as it was all for a good cause. Since the three loud girls couldn’t even be bothered to show up most days, we finally had a chance to take charge. It was a lot like The Apprentice, ringing various companies and going out and visiting shops to get donations. Living at home was really good too as I was able to see my friends and didn’t feel isolated anymore.

As for my group, I feel like I was just unlucky. On the whole of NCS, there were the same types of cliques that you would find at school. Everyone just talked about other people behind their backs (including the group leaders), and I felt that there was no one that I could even remotely connect with. The people on the programme were really just not like me at all. If you’re someone who can get on with anyone, then I feel like you’d have a much better experience than I did. Whether you love or loath NCS really does depend on who you’re with and the connections you form (since the activities are so bad).

I’m not the loudest, most outgoing person, at least not with new people, but I did try. And honestly, I did notice a change in myself, as I came more out of my shell. Despite this, I was still made to feel like I was doing something wrong by the group leaders, just because I wasn’t screaming and shouting like some people. There were some people in my group who were really shy, and I just felt so bad for them. You were really made to feel bad for your personality. The obnoxious behaviour of the three, dominant members of the group really did lower our confidence as we felt that we could not take leadership roles, offer ideas etc., and this was enabled by the attitude of the group leaders, who would constantly put these people in charge. This is what ruined my experience. The whole programme eventually just made me feel bad about myself. By the end of the experience, I had a new hatred for the fact that I wasn’t someone who was loud and outgoing, and to an extent I still feel the same way now.

The whole programme is really suited to people who are already loud and outgoing. Which is fine, I guess. But it's been made out to be this thing that transforms shy introverts into outgoing extroverts, and it just isn't.

Overall? If I had to sum it up in two words it would be "false advertising". my experience was just completely wrecked by these people, and the behaviour of the group leaders was just so inappropriate. I wish it had turned out differently, and that I had been able to make new friends and develop my character more.

At least I can put it on UCAS though.
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Liam Bermo
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#2
Report 3 years ago
#2
I had a bad time at mine as well. it's just dreadful. I have people and anxiety issues so I found it super hard. on top of that I made the mistake of getting to know this girl and then I ended up loving her..... she doesn't feel the same way and it's just a mess!
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username4272282
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#3
Report 3 years ago
#3
HAHa mine was really bad as well. I did it back in 2015. I can relate to the whole thing with the group leaders. I think the issue is that NCS employs group leaders who are very close in age to the people taking part in the challenge. This means that they often share a similar mindset and have yet to properly “mature.” My particular group leader was literally part of one of the cliques.

I made the mistake of going with a “close” school friend who I had issues with, but put aside as I had crippling social anxiety and NEEDED to go with someone I knew. So she automatically made my entire experience horrible, but I won’t go into that.

First week was a nightmare. I remember going kayaking. The leaders told us that we wouldn’t be forced to swim if we didn’t want to. It was that time of the month for me and it was completely unexpected so I only had sanitary pads on me. I was fine with the kayaking as long as I could stay in the boat. However, toward the end of the session they just random initiated a game of “tip everyone’s boats” and so I had to trek back through the cold, sopping wet, literally bleeding, it was extremely depressing.

The food was absolutely disgusting. Whatever we didn’t eat, the people who owned the activity centre would basically mash up and feed to the cattle, so we started a campaign to eat as much as we could so that the sheep wouldn’t have to suffer.

The hike was horrific. The leaders think that when you lag behind, you’re just tired and you need to push yourself. My friend had really bad asthma. She was literally on the verge of passing out and the team leader was just like “come on, push yourself! You can do it! Believe in yourself! ” like my girl out here choking to death and your telling her to climb a mountain.

Second day of the residential a guy snuck into the room of one of the girls from my group and they quite obviously had a BANGING night. I couldn’t sleep.

Residential was bad too because my group leader and all the “loud chicks” would always seem to team up and ask me “why are you so quiet?” And then proceed to stare at me.

The final week we worked in an elderly care home. They expected us to chat with the old people about their lives but all the old people there seemed to care about was what time their kids would be coming to pick them up lmao.

But as you say, least I could put it on my CV.j
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willsss
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#4
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#4
(Original post by Snfkin)
HAHa mine was really bad as well. I did it back in 2015. I can relate to the whole thing with the group leaders. I think the issue is that NCS employs group leaders who are very close in age to the people taking part in the challenge. This means that they often share a similar mindset and have yet to properly “mature.” My particular group leader was literally part of one of the cliques.

I made the mistake of going with a “close” school friend who I had issues with, but put aside as I had crippling social anxiety and NEEDED to go with someone I knew. So she automatically made my entire experience horrible, but I won’t go into that.

First week was a nightmare. I remember going kayaking. The leaders told us that we wouldn’t be forced to swim if we didn’t want to. It was that time of the month for me and it was completely unexpected so I only had sanitary pads on me. I was fine with the kayaking as long as I could stay in the boat. However, toward the end of the session they just random initiated a game of “tip everyone’s boats” and so I had to trek back through the cold, sopping wet, literally bleeding, it was extremely depressing.

The food was absolutely disgusting. Whatever we didn’t eat, the people who owned the activity centre would basically mash up and feed to the cattle, so we started a campaign to eat as much as we could so that the sheep wouldn’t have to suffer.

The hike was horrific. The leaders think that when you lag behind, you’re just tired and you need to push yourself. My friend had really bad asthma. She was literally on the verge of passing out and the team leader was just like “come on, push yourself! You can do it! Believe in yourself! ” like my girl out here choking to death and your telling her to climb a mountain.

Second day of the residential a guy snuck into the room of one of the girls from my group and they quite obviously had a BANGING night. I couldn’t sleep.

Residential was bad too because my group leader and all the “loud chicks” would always seem to team up and ask me “why are you so quiet?” And then proceed to stare at me.

The final week we worked in an elderly care home. They expected us to chat with the old people about their lives but all the old people there seemed to care about was what time their kids would be coming to pick them up lmao.

But as you say, least I could put it on my CV.j
Sounds like we had quite similar experiences. Thought they might have changed/improved after three years but nah. The water thing is so true, they said “you wont be made to do anything you don’t want to”, but they made me and my friend jump into this lake when my friend has a heart condition which means you can’t go into cold water. The whole positivity thing when they say “push yourself! Believe in yourself!” Is honestly just the advertising of the programme and is so fake in reality
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daydreamer100
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#5
Report 3 years ago
#5
(Original post by willsss)
Before I start, I should probably point out a few things.

Firstly, NCS experiences can contrast greatly. It really depends not only on the area in which you do it, but also the people you do it with and your own personality. This is a very personal review, and will most likely be very different to your own. Secondly, this viewpoint will probably come across as quite pessimistic. Just remember: it’s not pessimism, it’s honesty.

I remember standing with my group, waiting for the coach to come and pick us up to take us to where we would be staying. Naturally, most people were quite awkward and shy, which was to be expected. What was not anticipated were a select few, very, very loud, individuals, who seemed to think that the whole programme had been organised for them. They had already formed a very weird friendship/obsession with the group leaders, acting as if they were best friends. The group leaders seemed to go along with this, and didn’t really make the effort to interact with the rest of us in the group. Already, we were feeling isolated.

It was within ten minutes of sitting on the bus that I realised that I had made a mistake. For three hours, we were subjected to screaming, food fights and music blasting out of speakers. I do realise that in writing this I sound like a miserable, irritable old teacher, but I was really not in the mood for it after the first hour. If you’re considering NCS, prepare yourself for the bus ride from hell.

We had been discouraged from bringing any form of entertainment: books, iPads, even phones, as we had been promised that we would have no free time at all as a result of the “jam packed schedule”. In truth, we spent more time doing nothing than we spent doing activities. We had three activities a day, the third being a smaller occasion such as “treasure hunt”, “quiz” or “team games” or something equally condescending. It seemed like zero thought or effort had gone into these. The “treasure hunt” required us to find a bottle lid, crisp packet or piece of plastic. It was essentially a glorified litter pick.

Some activities were really quite good, like kayaking and raft building. Unless you live near the South coast, you don’t get to do any of the fun water stuff like caving, jumping off cliffs, white water rafting etc. The rest of the activities were pretty much intolerable, and our team really just didn’t enjoy them. It was just really boring. Funnily enough, the previously mentioned loud, egotistical members of the team who had struck up the questionable friendship with the group leaders were somehow exempt from these activities. It seemed strange that they were always presented with the choice, but for us it was compulsory. There really was some sort of horrible sense that they were somehow better than the rest of us.

After the first week, my friend left because it was so bad. I had just got through a really tough week, and I didn’t want it to be all for nothing, and so I stayed on the programme. I was fairly optimistic that it couldn’t get much worse.

HOW WRONG I WAS.

I didn’t really see how the residential week could be worse, but it ended up being the longest five days of my life. We had to spend TWELVE HOURS a day in this college. It had been advertised as a week to help with employability skills, for example CV writing. We actually just spent the week playing games. We would sit in a cold sports hall for 3 hours every morning, doing “team building” (making towers out of spaghetti, chairs out of balloons). Another 3 were spent practicing for a talent show, which was pretty much the most important event of the week in the eyes of our group leaders, and thus had the most time dedicated to it. Our act was decided by one particularly loud member of the group, and no one else had any input. Again, certain members left us with the activities, and went and sat with the group leaders. It was genuinely an insult to our intelligence that the week that we experienced was so far from what had been promised, and so condescending. The length of the days was draining, and it was truly the unhappiest week of my life. We pretty much just spent the day watching the clock. As soon as I got home at midday on the Friday, I fell asleep. If there’s any way you can do NCS and not do the residential, I very much encourage you to do so, if you don’t want your mental health to be impaired.

Social Action was the only part I enjoyed. Of course, the majority of the group had no input whatsoever into the decision of what charity we should raise money for, but I didn’t really mind, as it was all for a good cause. Since the three loud girls couldn’t even be bothered to show up most days, we finally had a chance to take charge. It was a lot like The Apprentice, ringing various companies and going out and visiting shops to get donations. Living at home was really good too as I was able to see my friends and didn’t feel isolated anymore.

As for my group, I feel like I was just unlucky. On the whole of NCS, there were the same types of cliques that you would find at school. Everyone just talked about other people behind their backs (including the group leaders), and I felt that there was no one that I could even remotely connect with. The people on the programme were really just not like me at all. If you’re someone who can get on with anyone, then I feel like you’d have a much better experience than I did. Whether you love or loath NCS really does depend on who you’re with and the connections you form (since the activities are so bad).

I’m not the loudest, most outgoing person, at least not with new people, but I did try. And honestly, I did notice a change in myself, as I came more out of my shell. Despite this, I was still made to feel like I was doing something wrong by the group leaders, just because I wasn’t screaming and shouting like some people. There were some people in my group who were really shy, and I just felt so bad for them. You were really made to feel bad for your personality. The obnoxious behaviour of the three, dominant members of the group really did lower our confidence as we felt that we could not take leadership roles, offer ideas etc., and this was enabled by the attitude of the group leaders, who would constantly put these people in charge. This is what ruined my experience. The whole programme eventually just made me feel bad about myself. By the end of the experience, I had a new hatred for the fact that I wasn’t someone who was loud and outgoing, and to an extent I still feel the same way now.

The whole programme is really suited to people who are already loud and outgoing. Which is fine, I guess. But it's been made out to be this thing that transforms shy introverts into outgoing extroverts, and it just isn't.

Overall? If I had to sum it up in two words it would be "false advertising". my experience was just completely wrecked by these people, and the behaviour of the group leaders was just so inappropriate. I wish it had turned out differently, and that I had been able to make new friends and develop my character more.

At least I can put it on UCAS though.
Hi, I realise I’m a bit late to the party here but I’m doing a bit of research cos I’m applying to be an NCS leader this summer. Do you mind if I ask whereabouts you’re from/where you did NCS? I did it back in 2014 in Derbyshire and I loved it and it seemed like everyone else in my group loved it. I’m now in my second year of uni and I’ve spoken to a few people about it and they’ve said that I am the only person they’ve met who actually enjoyed NCS. Maybe other areas don’t run it so well, I don’t know. What you said about the group leaders sounds really bad, they obviously weren’t doing their job very well if you felt so isolated. I guess it also comes down to who you’re in a group with which is just pure luck, your team leader included. My leader was particularly good. I spoke to a girl on my course who was a leader last year when I was writing my application and she said the chances of getting an interview are high because NCS are short staffed anyway, which may be why they sometimes hire the wrong people.
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willsss
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#6
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#6
(Original post by daydreamer100)
Hi, I realise I’m a bit late to the party here but I’m doing a bit of research cos I’m applying to be an NCS leader this summer. Do you mind if I ask whereabouts you’re from/where you did NCS? I did it back in 2014 in Derbyshire and I loved it and it seemed like everyone else in my group loved it. I’m now in my second year of uni and I’ve spoken to a few people about it and they’ve said that I am the only person they’ve met who actually enjoyed NCS. Maybe other areas don’t run it so well, I don’t know. What you said about the group leaders sounds really bad, they obviously weren’t doing their job very well if you felt so isolated. I guess it also comes down to who you’re in a group with which is just pure luck, your team leader included. My leader was particularly good. I spoke to a girl on my course who was a leader last year when I was writing my application and she said the chances of getting an interview are high because NCS are short staffed anyway, which may be why they sometimes hire the wrong people.
I did mine in Merseyside. I think it really does depend, different regions do really different things. Mine just seemed like it had been organised last minute and very little thought and effort had gone into the planning. In my opinion, NCS needs to make its experience more consistent in all regions, because at the moment, the advertising is completely not what you get.
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Pendragons
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#7
Report 2 years ago
#7
Seven months late but I want to share my experience too.

NCS was hands down the worst three weeks of my life. For a few reasons.
-I am terrified of heights, it is a genuine phobia, and on the activity week in Wales, I was just mocked. Nobody, none of my group or the instructors, tried to help me with my fears, they just made fun of me, to the point where I phoned my mum and begged her whilst sobbing to pick me up (she refused, saying I'd regret leaving, which looking back, is true. it looks good on UCAS applications etc, even if it was a living hell)
-We also voted on which activities we wanted to do, and not to sound like a spoiled brat but we didn't do any of the activities I voted for because I was always in the minority somehow. I should also mention at this point that, although I didn't know whilst we were there because I found out when we got back and I went to the doctors, I was dangerously anaemic. This basically meant that I had absolutely no energy, no matter what I ate or how much I slept. I am a larger person in general, although I wouldn't say I am unfit. So when the rest of the group decided to do gorge walking, I REALLY struggled. I was wearing a wetsuit that didn't fit me properly, wearing a pair of board shorts that were too small, and climbing up a gorge. The whole time, the two instructors with us just mocked me or shouted at me to hurry up because I guess they thought I was trying to ruin it for the others because I was the only one who didn't vote for it? I ended up having a panic attack on the bus back to the hostel we were at, and my mum got a phone call saying that my attitude was poor and that I was ruining it for everyone else (I am the world's biggest teacher's pet so she knew there was something else going on)
-I am a vegetarian and they didn't cater to me. Like at all. I had to have just plain mash for dinner one night, because they "didn't have a veggie option available".
-The other two weeks, I was excluded from the group for the most part because none of them liked me after the week in Wales where I deliberately ruined it for them apparently. I also somehow ended up doing the most work for our presentations (this didn't bother me, I actually enjoyed just getting on with it on my own) and I got a special shout out during our dragon's den pitch we had to do by one of the "dragons", a local business owner, which the others really didn't like.
-Also whilst we were out fundraising for our charity, one person in my group went and robbed a shop to show off that he could do it so they really were a lovely group of people. (I told the group leader in private, and nothing ever happened about it so clearly she wasn't too bothered)

TL;DR I came across as a selfish brat to the group because of being starved and having an iron deficiency, and so I was mocked, bullied, and excluded for three weeks, by the rest of my group and the instructors. But looks great on applications so that's all fine
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willsss
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#8
Report Thread starter 2 years ago
#8
I'm so sorry you had to go through that, but it just sounds so typical of NCS. Most of the leaders are just doing it because it pays extremely well, and most of the time they're people who really shouldn't be leading a group. I hated how the group leaders seemed to take sides leaving quite a few of us in the minority. Luckily in my group there were 4 of us who stuck together because we didn't like what was going on. If I had been with people I didn't really like I would have 100% quit. The only reason I stayed for 4 weeks was because the first week was so awful and I didn't want to have gone through it for nothing. NCS seriously needs reforming or they should just stop the whole thing altogether to be honest because for some people it is a horrible experience.
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