“We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never again be prepared to settle for anything less” – Kurt Hahn, co-founder of The Outward Bound Trust
It was the August Bank Holiday Monday 2018 and a party of young people aged 11-13 who have been supported by Welcare, two members of staff and Mark, a volunteer mentor, set off from our Inner London centre for a week long adventure at the Ullswater Outward Bound Activity Centre in the Lake District.
The aim of the trip – to increase emotional well-being, and build confidence and resilience. All the young people supported by Welcare, through our weekly drop-in, OurPlace, our summer holiday activity programme or the WithRespect programme were selected because they had worked hard to overcome significant personal challenges, including having been excluded from similar activities organised by their schools. All the young people were know to us but they didn’t all know each other before the trip started.
Throughout the week everyone was encouraged to enjoy the beautiful lakeside setting and to test themselves by walking up mountains and waterfalls, supporting each other both physically, using ropes and harnesses, and emotionally, through encouraging words and gestures. All the challenges took courage and determination and pushed us out of our comfort zone, whether that was wading through mud and icy water, crawling through tunnels, coping with insects or eating ration packs by a camp fire and appreciating how dark it is without street lighting!
Learning in the outdoors provides direct and practical experiences that cannot be achieved within a traditional workshop setting, and learning through adventure provides a visceral experience of risk. Anna, our CEO, says of the trip “I was enormously proud of the young people, especially when we spent our first night camping and then kayaked back to the centre across Ullswater. I was also extremely proud of Welcare, we managed the risk of taking a group of young people away and bringing them back safely while providing them with a unique opportunity to leave a long hot summer in Lambeth behind them and gain an opportunity to grow their confidence.