I had the privilege this week of working with an NCS group for a day at the end of their first week of outdoor adventurous activity. We were out on the hill and it was particularly wet! The day was a fantastic reminder of why taking groups of people in the outdoors and facilitating their ownership of a challenging time together is such a worthwhile undertaking. You've heard it all before so I won't go into that piece about helping groups have their own adventure.....though it is one of the most rewarding things I do.
The big reminder for me was how outdoor adventure with any age group (in this case 15 to 17 year olds) can massively enhance other challenges. The National Citizens Service is a well designed series of challenges and developmental opportunities and it relies heavily on outdoor adventure. That first week of adventure together sets the tone for the rest of the programme. It stretches self confidence and self awareness, builds new relationships and develops team skills. Crucially, at a time when the UK seems to be experiencing growing intolerance, the whole programme helps young people get a better understanding of others outside their immediate peer group from school and local friends. I know from the experience of my own daughter and son, as well as the observations of many NCS groups, that a very real outcome of this programme is to promote and support our multi-racial and tolerant society with the next generation of its young leaders.
So for all of you delivering or supporting the delivery of outdoor activity for NCS in the coming weeks - when many 10,000s of young people will rely on you to help them have their own adventures together - consider the role you are playing to combat intolerance as well as helping those young people develop a love for the outdoors.