In April 2022, we were delighted to launch the first ever Building for My Future course in partnership with the Outward Bound Trust in the beautiful Lake District!
As part of our ever-growing strategy to give back to both residents and our wider connected communities, Simple Life was proud to launch a brand new partnership with the Outward Bound Trust to deliver a bespoke course for young people aged 15+. Building for My Future has been designed to create opportunities for resilience, determination, and leadership, and is unique in that it brings together people from different backgrounds and circumstances, unlike many other courses that are for existing groups such as schools and organisations.
Residents and charity partners were invited to apply for a place, giving them a chance to express what they hoped to get from the week. ESG Director, Niamh, and Senior Marketing Manager, Tiffany, were joined by 10 teenagers – five being Simple Life residents, three from our charity partners Park Palace Ponies and Centrepoint, and two from Simple Life staff. The first challenge being to meet new people and become a team from the off! Over the course of five days, the team were tested mentally and physically, and had to band together to get the most out of the course.
After arriving at the beautiful Ullswater OBT centre – a former manor house overlooking Ullswater Lake – the week started with team-building and name games to get everyone acquainted. To see how well everyone would gel as a team from the off, a power-boat ride to the other side of the lake led to a large row boat, for the journey back to base. Straight away, both Niamh and Tiffany and the instructors – Alex and Andy – were impressed by the communication of the group, and the leadership already on show to get everyone safely across to shore.
It wouldn’t be an outdoor excursion without a bit of weather! With a steady drizzle all day, we headed off to Coldcove Gill for a scramble up the (somewhat chilly!) water course. Requiring determination to get up some of the trickier climbs, and resilience in the face of cold conditions, no-one was left behind as every team member helped each other to wend our way up the waterfalls. Soaked to the skin but always laughing, some even opted for extra dips into the river just to be sure they were utterly drenched!
As if we weren’t wet enough, we ended the day with a short boat ride… and a jump off a cliff into the lake! With a bit of coaxing and encouragement from some team members who (cleverly!) stayed warm on the boat, Niamh and Tiffany took the plunge along with five of the group – a great personal challenge for them!
The evening was spent getting prepped for our big overnight expedition the following day, making sure everyone had the right kit, plenty of food packs, and a clear idea of what was yet to come.
With some last minute kit checks, we set off from the centre to Hartsop near Patterdale, to begin our hike. Through beautiful countryside, valleys and hills, we wended our way along the trail to Angle Tarn, the lake between mountains Angletarn Pikes and The Knott. A lot of uphill meant the team needed to dig deep and stick together to ensure no-one was left behind.
Setting up camp on the banks of the tarn – with a flock of geese for neighbours – it was a chance to find some space and peace after a packed few days. Some team members took the opportunity to nap or just take in their surroundings, whilst some of the girls joined instructor Andy to tick off the Angletarn Pikes peak just as the sun began to set.
The work didn’t stop though, as the group worked together to light their Trangias and get everyone their hot dinner – for most of us our first taste of ration packs, which were surprisingly tasty! With a cup of tea and sticky toffee pudding to finish, it was time to bed down and get a little sleep.
Following a few hours’ sleep – thanks to the family of geese making their presence well known! – it was time to pack up camp and wend our way back to base over land, air and water. A hike from Angle Tarn to a forested area above Blowick Bay brought us to the abseil point. Once again, mettle was tested as we each tipped over the cliff-edge and descended down to a narrow ledge before settling into rafted canoes.
Splitting into groups, each team of four worked together to paddle the 6km back to the centre. A few gusts of wind enabled us to get out the make-shift sails, and we were even treated to the spectacular sight of fighter jets performing manoeuvres right over our heads!
Once we had returned, the final task was to sort all the kit – a challenge that can take hours if not done right! The team rallied together and worked phenomenally well to get all kit back to the right places in record time, earning everyone some well-deserved down time, followed by a campfire and marshmallow toasting.
Our final day wasn’t going to end quietly, and the team had decided on the day’s activity. Back in the canoes but in individual pairs, we played a series of games to test our steering and control. Those who fancied a final dip were tested further, balancing on the side of the boats or seeing how far they could rock without falling in!
We wrapped up our week with some reflections in our group pod, considering how each person had felt when they’d first arrived to the site compared to how they felt now they were about to leave, and what they had learned along the way. From building confidence in interacting with new people, to proving how capable they were, everyone had something to take away with them, and a great sense of achievement. The last task of the course is a reflection by each participant in a way that works for them – from a blog post, to a photo diary, to a nature account, however is best to express their experience.
We can’t wait for our next cohort of young people for our October course. One of our participants summed it up perfectly:
“Not only did it teach me a lot in such a short space of time, but I also met amazing people and made unforgettable memories.” – Ayla