22 Aug 2015

Week One Of The National Citizen Service

No matter how much time I spend sitting here writing this post it will never do my NCS experience justice. The pictures won't show you quite how happy I was or the I-am-about-to-pee-myself-with-laughter jokes we had and the words won't show how much I've grown as a person and the things I learnt about myself. But such is life!

I'm not going to lie, before I saw the adverts on TV for the National Citizen Service I had never heard of it before. But basically it is a government funded programme for 15-17 year olds living in England and Northern Ireland where you get the chance to spent 3 or 4 weeks away from home, meeting new people, conquering fears, increasing your independence and learning skills that they don't teach you at school. It's about showing yourself how amazing you really are and that you can achieve anything you put your mind too.

It's not easy- at times it's bloody difficult. You are expected to push yourself and do things you never thought you were capable of before. Climbing across bridges and tightropes suspended in the trees 30ft above the ground anyone? You are put into a group of 12-15 strangers that you have never laid eyes on before and expected to work together as a team. You have to eat with them, sleep with them and socialize with them. And you cannot complain once!

 My two friends, Bethan and Meriel, and I opted for the three week summer programme starting the 3rd August and before we knew it the day was upon us. Cue mad last minute packing and constant thought of  'have I forgotten anything?' as the butterflies whizzed around my stomach left, right and center until I thought I was going to throw up.

Can you tell that I don't deal well with nerves?

Anyway, Week One is all about getting comfortable with the people in your group and pushing yourself out of that little cozy comfort zone that we are all know and love. Our group went to the Essex Outdoors Center and stayed on campus there for five days, taking part in adventure sport like archery, rock climbing and canoeing by day and sleeping in tents at night...yes tents! Why did it have to be tents?

Lets just say my previous camping experience did not end well...

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did I last the whole five days without becoming a big fat emotional wreak but I actually enjoyed myself. Not many people get the chance to spend 24 hours, everyday for five days surrounded by a bunch of amazing people. Bethan, Meriel, Alice, Stevie and Michael become my everything for that short period of time. They saw me first thing in the morning and last thing at night, watched me wear the same top that I wore the night before (and the night before that!) to go rocking climbing in, comforted me when I was thinking of throwing in the towel because the idea of spending another night in that freezing cold, spider ridden uncomfortable tent was unthinkable, motivated me to do the horrendous activities that involved heights since me and heights really don't get on and laughed so hard with me when we stayed up half the time drinking tea and playing cards in the pitch black. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart!

The funny thing was that for the whole time I was there I didn't wear an inch of make up (not even mascara which has become a bit of a necessity when you have midget eyes like mine), smelt a bit sweaty, didn't straighten my hair once, discussed my toilet activities in broad daylight with a bunch of strangers and you know what...I didn't give a shit. For the first time in as long as I can remember how I looked was the last thing on my mind. And it felt amazing! I realize now I spent far too much time before worrying about how my hair looked, if this dress made my bum looks big and whether you could see that spot I tried for an hour to cover up. Who cares people! There are more important things, like making memories at NCS that will last a lifetime!

I got back from Week One late Friday afternoon (7th August) covering in painful cuts and bruises and stinking of pond water from where our canoe capsized. If you know me you would probably think that this was my worse nightmare and in someways it was, I mean communal shower? But somehow or another I find myself sitting here and longing to go back to that first week. Yes, the food may not have been great but at least they didn't starve us. Yes, the tents may have been freezing cold at night but I survived. And yes, I'm really bad at meeting new people but I did it and got to know some really lovely people.

I have to end this by saying a massive big thank you to my beautiful ginger friend Meriel who spent no less than three hours on the phone to me one evening, trying to encouraging me to sign up to do the National Citizen Service. I would not be writing this post had it not been for her very persuasive speech!

And NCS, thank you for everything. You made me feel amazing and showed me that you are never too old to get out there and do something new. I'm sorry for moaning about pretty much everything and I'm sorry for shouting at quite a few of the instructors to 'GET ME THE HELL DOWN NOW!' when I was doing the climbing wall. I did truly think I was about to die, not lie. Also you made me really appreciate my vision since attempting to do a military style obstacle course
blindfolded was not much fun!

So of course I would recommend this programme to anyone and everyone- shout it from the rooftops if I have too. If you are between the ages of fifteen and seventeen you better sign up NOW! It was an amazing experience that money really can't buy...yet it did. All £20 of it!

Who doesn't love a good bargain eh?

Love Beth xx

1 comment:

  1. I agree with everything, NCS was amazing! I can't believe you slept in a tent all week! I only had to sleep in a tent one night, we were in your typical PGL style rooms for the other nights! Can't wait for your week 2 post x



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