First of all what is the NCS project all about? NCS (National Citizen Service) is a project for young people to gather up different skills such as communication skills, leadership skills, thinking skills, teamwork skills, listening skills and so on. To gain these skills a massive group of us young adults (teenagers in other words) went on Two, one week residentials. First week to Sheffield and the second week to Gilwell park in Chingford. These weeks were the weeks leading up to our project which we were to do in our groups (we were split up into smaller groups as there were roughly 70 of us 'young people'). After a week of planning of what we were to do as a delivery we were to do an NCS social action project delivery. This was something inwhcih to get young people giving something back to the community. Something positive and worth while.
This was the first of the NCS project that was set by the Government and delivered by Leyton Orient football club and other football clubs around London. This, being the first, was to get a feel for the whole project and to see how us young people reacted to the project and weather or not it was worth while. This project has cost the Government a hell load of money so only time will tell if they chose to do this project again or not.
Our first residential was to Sheffield. We left Leyton Orient at roughly 11am on the 4th of July (we were due back on the 8th of July). The journey took four hours to get to our accommodation in Sheffield. It was an extremely long journey, especially for people like me who suffer from travel sickness! As soon as we got there, we were told to leave our bags on a piece of grass and then were lead to a massive hall (where we would chill out most nights along side having our meals). We were sat down and told 'the rules' which took, what felt an extremely long time. That day seemed extremely long although, more or less straight away certain people started to make bonds with each other.
Through the week we were given different activities that was delivered by those who worked at our accommodation in Sheffield. The activities ranged from rock climbing to bushcraft to team building. Some activities were better than others but depending of what type of person you are, depends on what you enjoyed the most.
Our group started off with team building, which, to be honest; I thought was boring. Although, it was worth it due to the fact it brought us closer together as a group and got us working together better as a group. Because of the team building day at the beginning of the week, the rest of the week were a lot more better for us. This is because of the fact that we were more of a team and were more willing to help and support each other in activities more strenuous.
The team building was on the Tuesday and on the Wednesday our group went off to rock climbing in a massive rock climbing centre roughly 15 minutes away from where we were staying. The walls were massive and watching other people climbing the walls were slightly overwhelming and exciting. None of us could wait to get up onto the walls, although we were all extremely nervous. Everyone was extremely relaxed around each other and because of this, made it more enjoyable. Along side doing rock climbing, there was also Chinese tug of war going on as well. Chinese tug of war is between two people trying to tug each other out of a small box drawn on the floor. It absolutely killed your hands but, it was so much fun!
On the Thursday we started off with white water rafting which I didn't join in with due to having a fear of river/lake water and sea water. I kicked up such a fuss so they just allowed me to sit out which was fine by me. Although, everyone else enjoyed it and even had a laugh when they were tipped over the side into the river. I can't really comment on white water rafting, although, I thought to mention it.
In the afternoon, we did bushcraft which was really good. It was a sort of Ray Mears experience sort of thing. This consisted of making miniature tents out of natural resources such as logs/twigs and so on. This activities needed us to come together as a group and we did. Come together as a group that is.
That evening we were left to our own devices. They had a massive bouncy castle, bouncy castle slide, sumo wrestling. You know? With the suit and all sorts. It was so much fun. For once 15 and 16 year olds could act like 4 year olds. Us being London kids completely trashed the place. Making the bouncy castle tip over whilst about 20 people on it and the bouncy castles slowly deteriorate. It was so much fun and I think, everyone who had gone to the residential would agree.
But like everyone else, there was only one complaint. The showers were freezing, the rooms were filthy and the food weren't so great. All week long we complained but to be honest, at least we were getting food. But yes, the accommodation was slightly grim and the food weren't great nor was the girls showers any good.
On the Friday we left roughly at 10am and felt like a lifetime to get home. Even though we had a weekend to recuperate, it weren't long enough! By the following Monday (the 11th of July) we were off again to Gilwell park in Chingford. Another week away with more strenuously activities. One of the activities days we took part in was an Army day in which showed us a little taster of what the Army was like with the way their requiting days went and some of the activities you'd ha to over come. These were to get you focusing on your thinking skills and teamwork skills but not only this, it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Another all day activity consisted of our group heading up London to find out about tourist attractions and visiting those places. It also was a competition to see which group could finish the tour within the shortest time and I think our group lost. Anyway, it was extremely tiring the amount of walking we had to do and everyone being too moody through being over tired. Which is understandable. Later on that day, we did an activity called create stacking and two members of the group had to climb the stacks whilst they were being built. That was a lot of fun but as it was unsteady and high, it was also quite scary.
That night I left early for different reasons but I have to say that I preferred the Sheffield residential and most say the same thing. Although the showers were warm and the food was better along with the accommodation but, the activities at Sheffield were better and got us working together better as a team. Gilwell felt like a big brother site where you had no privacy. But some people may think differently. That is entirely based on opinion.
The residentials really got us thinking and learning not to mention working and improving skills that each individual person has. Each and everyone benefited from the residentials and most, not if everyone; has shown this through our NSC project we have previously just done. This consisted of 30 hours, although a few of us did over 30 hours due to the fact we did a project called S2R (Supporter to Reporter).
The first week of our action plan delivories were to work with younger children on S2R learn about media. We, too, were learning and had the chance to visit the BBC which was excelent. We put ourselves on 'Radiowaves.co.uk.' to blog throught the weeks, although; the site is all about sport. Week two was about working with younger children once again, but, this time; to deliver sports to them and those on S2R were to report back onto radiowaves about what was happeneing throughout the week and how those felt whilst on the project.
This whole project has been worth while and I can honestly say that I am learning and growing as a person and developing my confidence, teamwork and leadership skills along with thinking skills and listening skills. I know other people were on this project to help develop one skill or another and I suppose we are all working on these skills and our deliveries helped us dramatically with this. But as I said before, the residentials played a massive part in getting us to this point of the project. I am just glad I had this opportunity others may disagree,
What do you think? A good idea to work with the community? A good way to get us 'youth' doing something with ourselves? Maybe? Maybe not? At the end of the day, its your opinion, your life and your opportunities.
- Charlotte Layton