This Explore Day was the first day outside with us for the young people and marked the beginning of a long-term programme of outdoor adventure. Each young person took part in a full day of outdoor activities: grass tobogganing, assault courses and team games. They also did some bushcraft, including making shelters in the woods and learning to safely light fires. The activities got them outdoors and having fun, encouraged teamwork, built their resilience and inspired confidence.
Although some of the young people might have met each other at school, most of them did not know each other. We put those from the same school into different groups where possible. It helped them be able to leave any school reputations behind and start afresh on our Youth Adventure Programme. The focus on teamwork during the activities meant that the young people started to get to know each other and make new friends. For example, one of the obstacles on the assault course was a steep, wooden slope to climb over. It was much easier if a young person’s teammates helped pull them up the slope. Some of the activities, such as the balancing ones, were physically challenging.. The young people encouraged each other while completing them and this helped them get to know each other as well as increased their enjoyment of the day.
During the day, participants started to feel the benefits of time spent outdoors. Taking part in adventurous activities helped start to build their resilience and confidence. They will continue to make progress in these areas as the rest of the programme unfolds.
This year, we’ve welcomed 120 new young people onto the Youth Adventure Programme. The Youth Adventure Programme is based around outdoor adventure and spans three academic years. During the long-term programme, young people attend 3 residential camps, 8 activity days and have one-to-one support from their Youth Support Worker.
Thanks to funding from It’s Great Out There Coalition, the new young people have recently had their first taste of outdoor adventure with us – the Explore Day. This day is all about the young people getting outside with us for the first time, getting to know each other and meeting our team.
During the day, they took on a search and rescue challenge, grass tobogganing, a team assault course, and an egg race across a river. Some young people felt nervous at the start of the day, but with encouragement from their Youth Support Workers and our friendly volunteers, they soon got involved in all the different outdoor activities.
Next up for the young people, is Mountain Camp which is 6 days long and takes place in the summer holidays in July and August. During the Explore Day, the young people discussed what skills they might learn on the programme, and identified some of the aims that they’d like to work towards whilst they are on Mountain Camp. We were pleased to see some really reflective and personal aims being set, and are looking forward to helping the young people achieve them by getting back outside at Mountain Camp.
Being 6 days long, the young people get to spend even more time having outdoor adventures! For many, it will also be the first time they have spent 5 nights away from home. During camp, they will try other new outdoor activities such as climbing, canoeing, caving and more. The Explore Day has been a great introduction to outdoor activities and we’re excited to be able to continue the adventures over the summer holidays and beyond.
When did the activities take place?
18th, 19th June, 3rd July
How many days and hours per day of physical activity were included in the activities
1 day (6 hours) per young person = 6 hours x 114 young people = 684 hours of facilitated activity
How many participants took part in the activities?
Describe the target group that took part in the activities
The young people who took part in the Explore Days are all vulnerable. They are currently in Year 7 of secondary school and were selected for our programme for reasons such as: victim of abuse or neglect, chaotic home lives, bereavement, low confidence, anxiety, being isolated, being bullied or school refusal, as well as facing many other challenges.
The pandemic has severely impacted young people’s wellbeing and they have had far fewer opportunities to try new activities than in the past. As such, confidence levels are at an all time low. Families are now struggling even more due to the cost of living crisis and most do not have the resources to be able to take part in outdoor activities such as the ones on the Explore Day. Thanks to funding from It’s Great Out There, young people have had the chance to get outdoors and try adventurous activities.
What was the average age of participants?
What was the physical activity level of the participants?
Minimal, apart from PE lessons in school.
How many boys/men?
60 (plus 2 who said ‘other’ gender)
How many girls/women?
Money received from the Coalition in €:
What did you use the money for (guides, gear, accommodation…)?
The funds were used for:
- staff time supporting young people on the Explore Days
- transport for all the young people there
- volunteer expenses
- the activities
- venue and instructors
- plus expenses such as printing.
Our programme is free to all the young people and their families so funding from It’s Great Out There has been essential to allow the young people to take part in outdoor adventure.
How did I feel about the project before it started?
The young people said that they felt excited about the Explore Days, but also very nervous and apprehensive about trying something new, being away from home and around other young people they don’t know. In the months prior to each Explore Day, the Youth Support Workers held information days at school for young people and their parents/carers. These helped them know what they could expect from the programme and gave them the opportunity to ask any questions.
What was a challenge?
There were a lot of nerves from the young people before they got on the coach to their Explore Day. Some felt reluctant to attend due to this and some were upset. However, our Youth Support Workers have met all of them and their families before, so they were able to encourage them to get on the coach to the Explore Days. It’s learning to overcome challenges such as this that makes our programme so successful.
What was your favourite part of the project?
How will this project influence your outdoor adventures in the future?
The Explore Day is a great introduction to the Youth Adventure Programme and outdoor adventure. Most of the young people have not taken part in outdoor activities such as this before. They can often be expensive and require specialist kit and knowledge. However, our Explore Days and the rest of the programme show the young people that activities like this could be an option for them. At the end of the programme, we have a Bursary Scheme so that those who took part can purchase kit or membership fees.
The Explore Days will help ensure good attendance at the next part of the programme, Mountain Camp. At Mountain Camp, young people get the chance to try even more outdoor activities, such as kayaking, climbing, gorge walk and hiking.
Some Other Things
Would you recommend applying for an #itsgreatoutthere grant?
How useful would you say the support provided by the Coalition was to your project?
The grant from the Coalition was essential in helping our Explore Days go ahead. The €5000 covered the costs of around a third of the total cost of the days, which is a huge contribution.
The Explore Days are important because they help ensure good attendance at the next part of our programme, Mountain Camp in the summer holidays. Mountain Camp is 6 days long and so we spend a longer time outdoors with the young people. The Explore Days help us get to know them prior to this. This is important, not only so that the young people feel safe with us on Mountain Camp, but also because it helps us support them to write their personal goals for Mountain Camp. The goals they set ensure that they get the most out of Mountain Camp as well as having a great time having outdoor adventures.