Hear about our most recent trip with the Outward Bound Trust as; ESG Director Niamh reflects on her own experience
‘As a company with people and place at the heart of all we do, the vision behind our partnership with The Outward Bound Trust, and our Building for my Future courses, was to afford young people, from all walks of life and location, the opportunity to build confidence, resilience and leadership. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone, meeting new people, facing challenges and setting goals, and working as a team, are all important life skills as we grow and find our pathway in life.
Through the initial silence upon arrival at Ullswater, the nerves and uncertainty were clear, but it did not take long – a jog and dip, and rock jumping, to begin to feel the team spirit and determination of the group.
Challenges and tasks were pitched to test individual and team skills: communication, resilience, teamwork, problem-solving, empathy, leadership, cooperation and collaboration, and it was great to see the team rise to the challenges faced. The challenges extended to the weather with an unexpected ‘cosmetic dusting’ (the words of the OBT daily weatherman!) of snow on the mountains, which quickly became considerably greater. We experienced all 4 seasons in the week – glorious sunshine, soaking rain, constant mist, hail, snow and wind! The team bonded, supported, encouraged, questioned, resolved, suggested and made the week a really enjoyable life-learning experience.
All too often young people today get bad press, are criticised, portrayed negatively, called lazy, irresponsible, referred to as ‘snowflakes’ (which is odd as a snowflake is beautiful, creative, structured, strong, etc), or simply referred to as ‘typical’! I get incredibly frustrated and indeed angry at these references, and wonder if adults today remember what it was like to be a teenager, growing up, finding your path in the world, meeting ‘expectations’, and the pressures to ‘do’, ‘be’, ‘achieve’! And we did that without social media and the tech world!
The young people, without exception, that I have had the privilege to accompany and get to know on these courses have been, kind, thoughtful, aware, supportive, encouraging, engaging, determined, fun, welcoming, committed, with a clear desire to be the best person they can be. Like so many of us they are also, at times, unsure, anxious, shy, nervous, scared and yes argumentative, quiet, grumpy, tired, questioning and challenging. That is as it should be! That is part of living and being a human. They enjoyed the opportunity to challenge and test, were open about the challenges they face, and happy to discuss and suggest solutions. From my time with them they have a huge capacity to reflect, review and give honest feedback. Surely this is what we want of all people, young and not so young! If the three groups we have now taken to Ullswater, are even a small reflection of the future then I feel very confident we are in safe hands, if we allow them to blossom and humble ourselves to learn from and with them.
So much of the success of these courses is down to the engagement and determination of the group to get the most out of the experience, and our brilliant OBT Instructors, Alex and Andrew, who set the tone and ethos, and who working with the group set the goals and targets. And then there was the entire Ullswater team, of which I now feel very much a part, who looked after and fed us! It really was a team experience and success.
I thank this group for a fabulous week, a week where they also helped and taught me, that I can do – I did climb in the snow and though cold simply loved it! Their thanks and gratitude was genuine. I came away feeling reassured, humbled, and energised, ready for anything (well almost!) as I hope they do. I also thank everyone at Ullswater for their care and professionalism, and I encourage anyone interested in having a go to contact me, as we have places and opportunities available, and we are committed to building this provision going forward.
In a week when we jumped, rowed, canoed, sailed, climbed, hiked, slid, fell and got back up many times, cooked, caved, built, paddled, laughed, cried, shared, conquered, sang, danced, sat, listened, reflected, achieved, talked, we left with greater self-belief and confidence, and an array of skills to take with us as we navigate the next stage of our life’s journey.’