I would say NCS has probably been the most enjoyable, challenging experience to date this year, and I will certainly take away lots of fantastic memories of a fun filled summer. The programme started with a residential trip in week 1, where we took part in lots of activities, such as kayaking, mountain biking and high ropes courses. The young people spent the week bonding and getting to know each other, as very few really knew each other before the programme. One young person said that she, “really enjoyed meeting new people. The activity that bonded us the most was high ropes and low ropes, as we all had to overcome our fears and everyone had to help each other out”. What really impressed me was how supportive everyone was of each other, and how far they pushed themselves out of their comfort zones. As a team leader it was great to see everyone starting to feel more comfortable around each other and having fun. My highlight of the first week was probably one of the evening activities, where we did a food Olympics course. Each NCS team allocated competitors to take on various food challenges, such as “chubby bunnies” where you try to fit as many marshmellows in  your mouth as possible. Each team got really involved and there was so much cheering and laughing coming from every group. It was great for staff to have an opportunity to be a bit silly and have fun after long days of activities.

In the second week the team took part in their second residential. This was based in slimbridge and the accommodation was fantastic. The main challenges this week were that young people had to cook for themselves and their team. The team also decided they would bake some cakes for another fundraiser running at YG, which was a great way to kickstart the idea of fundraising and community work. The young people said that they found this to be a “tough experience, because you have to work around other people, and learn to take on different roles. Cooking for lots of people was quite hard especially when you have never done it before”. Despite finding it a challenge young people all worked together and the food was great. we had lots of variety, and everything was perfectly cooked. What was great in the second week was that I got to spend a lot more time with my team. We had lots of great conversations about what community projects the team may want to do and everyone threw themselves into all the games and teambuilding activities we did.

The third and fourth weeks have so far been about raising money for Teens in Crisis. The team decided to try and raise money for this charity because they felt really strongly about supporting young people their own age. They wanted to help young people who may not have access to counselling services, particularly if they had a family member they were caring for or maybe had been unwell themselves. So far they have completed a sponsored walk, and will be completing a fun day and bag pack before NCS is up. The walk was quite a challenge for some, as we walked a total of 10 miles from Cheltenham town centre to Gloucester town centre. It is completely worth it as the team have already raised £400 for their chosen charity. To top it off the mayor met the group at the end of their walk and was really positive about what the group is doing.

Overall I have had a fantastic experience of NCS. The team have been wonderful. Mostly they have been kind, to eachother and to me. They have been energetic, enthusiastic and passionate. They have thrown themselves into everything and truly embraced the community spirit of the programme. I cannot wait for the graduation ceremony, and for NCS next year!