Last week I was in Dorset, camping with young people who are taking part in the National Citizen Service.
NCS is a programme aimed at 15 to 17-year-olds with the objective of making new friends, learning the skills that are not taught in a classroom and creating unforgettable memories.
I was on the staff team throughout the week and had an opportunity to really engage and understand the young people on this year’s course.
The fact that not one individual knew anybody else before they started didn’t matter; five days in, the youngsters walked away with new friends prepared for the remainder of the programme.
The weather was thankfully warm and sunny, which made the outdoor activities scheduled even more enjoyable than anticipated.
Kayaking, climbing, abseiling, caving, coasteering, raft-building and walking were a few of the many sessions available.
What really struck me throughout the course of the week was that everyone tried the activities regardless of how they initially felt towards them.
Whether they loved or disliked an activity, they continued to approach each one with optimism and an open mind.
Many of the sessions were physically challenging, and with the sun on the group all day it became increasingly difficult.
The week was also designed to promote team work, communication and the importance of enthusiasm – something which I believe many young people need to understand more.
The NCS programme is four weeks, with different aims each week. I feel that a week away in the outdoors is very rewarding and seriously opens young eyes.
On one hand, people may state that the outdoors will do young people some good; it’s healthy.
But also it could be said that doing things outside beats technology, which plays a vast part in our lives.
This course is open to any young person who falls into the right age bracket, but there are only limited spaces available.
It would be such a brilliant scheme if every young person could get involved.
There is so much to explore and I wonder how many young people could surprise us when they are pushed to their limits?
Eighteen-year-old SAM POOLE goes to South Downs College and lives at Eastney, Portsmouth. Follow him on Twitter @shjpoole.