Journeying from Manchester to the Lake District, I was in conflict between apprehension and sheer excitement. I hadn’t visited an outdoor centre since I was a child therefore suddenly living with around 50 new people for 2 weeks as well, was very nerve-racking. Comparing my communication and timidity pre-NCS to after the first week, I developed massively in my confidence, igniting more conversations with new people and becoming broad as I began to appreciate the diversity of people around me. Everyone was quick to include me and I, them which was very consoling.
Day 1: The journey there was long but upon arriving we quickly settled. Since it was our first night we did some team building activities such as orienteering. There was a mixture of nerves of the next day ahead.
Day 2: Our first activity as a group was Ghyll Scrambling/George-Walking. To say the least, our wetsuits as well as our waterproofs did little to keep us warm on a wet and chilly day. Though after climatizing to the unearthly cold temperatures of the Ghyll, my team were quick to begin sliding our way down-stream. Down the first main waterfall I was swiftly pushed by the rough-moving water. I slid into a plunge pool though having forgotten to stop myself with my feet at the bottom, I submerged completely underwater. Thankfully my team all lent me a hand to pull myself out, ready for the next main drop. However after finally comprehending what just happened, it took me a moment to realise that my glasses fell off in the process. Since the water was deeper than usual from the rain, all hopes of my glasses returning were diminished. Therefore, for the remainder of the gorge walk and the week’s activities ahead I was challenged foremost with short-sightedness. After a long shower and some tea, we went rock climbing which was enjoyable.
Reflection: everyday we reflected on what we had learnt – for out first session we spoke about rules we wanted to implement for your NCS experience, we spoke in depth about respect, sexuality, racism, attentiveness, listening and friendship. In all, it was an eventful first day, exceeding all expectations I had for my NCS experience
Day 3: Following the previous days hiccup, our next activity was a lot more tranquillising as we began our canoeing expedition! Though what particularly got me excited was hearing that we would be wild camping on a deserted island on Lake Windermere. Thence, we spent the day tying two sets of three canoes togethers with wood and ropes, then paddled for 6 hours, beaching at a few islands to collect firewood. Singing songs, racing and watching the scenery together, was easily a highlight and was a clear representation of how well our group got on. Eventually settling on the island we set up camp, at dinner and began to reflect around the campfire.
Reflection: We spoke about how we take responsibility – this took me off guard because usually the question asked to young people is how will you take responsibility in the future and as a growing adult what should we be doing. The answers were varied, from looking after 3 younger siblings to supervising at hockey coaching. My answer was helping my parents around the house and the numerous volunteering I do. The rest of the evening was fantastic, we ate marshmallows, drank hot chocolate, stargazed and even played bulldog in the dark.
Day 4: After waking up in a humid tent, we set off our canoes back to our dorms at the centre. After lunch we went on a hike. Of course for some members of the group it was quite strenuous, especially with 1 person who had knee injuries from skiing, hence we kept on encouraging and were all understanding when breaks were needed and when we needed to push on. Despite the rainy weather from the previous days, it was very sunny and the views were spectacular at the top!
Reflection: In the evening we reflected upon diversity and what we all had in common as well as how different our interests were – this was both a funny and serious conversation. Afterwards every group sat around a campfire and invented a slogan and reenacted a funny experience they had so far!
Day 5: The final day was a mixture of teamwork activities and games. My favourite game which, we won over the other groups, was where we all had a pipe about a metre long and had to connect them together by holding them side by side to allow a ball to fall into a tube, quite a distance away, without it falling out. Other activities were walking through a plane of a ‘spiders web’ made from ropes without touching it. By the afternoon we set off back home, tired but in smiles.