How NCS changed my life
Allexandra from Borehamwood
"NCS (The National Citizen Service) is one of the opportunities many people choose to take; every autumn, spring and summer, people from different organisations are promoting this program to young people aged between 15 and 17. For me, it happened the same; one day, I was stopped on the street and I was introduced to the program by one of the YC Hertfordshire youth workers I know. She talked to me with so much enthusiasm and joy, so I decided to go for it. Initially, I was planning to take part in the summer program like a lot of my friends did; but I postponed the program and I took part in the autumn.
As the program almost started, a week before our group was taken to Cuffley Camp. There, we did a variety of activities such as team building and problem solving and also we met the people that were supposed to come with us to the residential. Having this trip a week before, helped us make new friends and get a taste of what we should expect.
Finally, the day of trip arrived and everyone was sooo excited. The funny thing that happened that morning, was that most of us turned up at the wrong place and we were standing there like idiots waiting for our team leaders to turn up. When we realised that none of them were actually coming, I decided to take matter into my own hands and I called our team leader. And guess what happened? We had to take a 15 minute walk to the place where we were actually supposed to be. The good thing about that? We helped each other with our luggage and no one was left behind!! I guess that the trip we’ve had was a good exercise.
So when we finally got to the hostel…funny thing that happened? Well, I had a “break down”; Why’s that? When I got my information, I didn’t understand that my team leader said “we’re staying at a hostel”. What I personally thought was that he said “we’re staying at a hotel”. Anyway, after we got our things sorted and we got our rooms, we were introduced to the staff members. A good thing? They were all nice and friendly – I mean apart from one of them that “loved” to challenge me/ annoy me – moreover, it’s incredibly impressive how they’ve all had patience, they all took their roles seriously and encouraged us. They’ve never let us give up (which in my opinion it’s very important) and they supported us until the last day of the project.
Moving on, first day we already got challenged by starting the activities. First thing that I remember is doing the rock climbing. Let me tell you, when you’re up there…it’s pretty scary. You constantly think that you might fall; but it’s okay! The best thing? You have your new friends to rely on. The staff members would teach you how to handle the equipment, but to be honest, after that it’s all on you and your partner. You learn “to trust your life in the hands of someone you’ve just met”; it could be hard, but the thing is …YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT!!!
After that, in the following days, we'd done all sorts of activities like mountain biking, archery, bridge building, obstacle courses, low/high ropes, tree-tops, bush crafting – quite useful if you ask me – and canoeing. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but to be honest in four days, I think it’s enough; if you want to enjoy the activities for a couple of hours, trust me that’s enough!
As I mentioned the obstacle course, it’s one of the activities that I want to talk about. Well, you see, it’s the activity where we tested our strengths and our team building skills. It was an activity that made us feel like we were in the army and it was the activity that got us a few bruises. Well, the pain is gone – so never mind! What I can’t forget about that activity was when we had to get through tyres; this girl in our team, she was scared of spiders. We had to get through the tiers while all of us were holding hands. It’s obvious that the tyres weren’t that clean, because we were outside…and obviously there were spiders in them. Guess what the girl did when she saw the spider? She didn’t scream, she didn’t try to kill it… she started CRYING!! I know… wouldn’t expect that from a 17 year old – but it was great how people supported her and I really hope she’s over that fear now!
Next thing up? The tree tops; there was this girl, she wanted to become an air hostess… got up there, and literally felt so scared; she didn’t want to move on. She made it to the end at one point, but while she was up there, everyone was encouraging her. People that had only known her for a day; they were there to support her and they weren’t laughing. Isn’t that great? To know that people we just met are there for you, to support you and give you the power to get over it.
One last SUPER MEMORABLE memory is having one of the team leaders and two of our team members fall in the water when we went canoeing. To be honest, everyone was expecting ME to fall; I didn’t. But they, I feel sorry for them. One of the girls, she didn’t know how to swim. She was frightened of getting in the water – this helped her get over the fear. Great, isn’t it?
After we came back from the residential, our second part of the project, was to come up with an idea of how we can help our community.
Well, we had to go out and ask people what they feel is missing from the community; and almost a lot of young people said a “Burger King” – which I don’t see how this can really help. However, because we couldn’t come up with any good ideas we decided to look at a possible place that would need our help.
And we found “New Court Place”. This place, was a care home for people that have different disabilities. Well, we felt quite emotional knowing that we’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for and other people don’t have the possibility to have what we do. So we decided that we were going to raise as much as we can to help this place.
Well we had several meetings every Saturday and Sunday, for about four weeks as I recall. We decided that we were going to have a SUPER MINI FAIR. Every weekend we were meeting to get all the necessary things that would help us make the fair successful and in one of the days we went to do gardening with a number of people that wanted to help and the Mayor.
An amazing thing was that a lot of people helped us get resources; a number of shops donated goods that we could’ve used to give out in the raffle and our biggest SUCCESS was that we managed to get free superhero costumes so we’d be dressed in the day of the fair. We found out about a woman that had a business and it was wonderful to see that she trusted us with the costumes. We gave them back after the fair but getting her to help us was incredibly AMAZING.
After we’d been successful with the fair, another rewarding thing was when we counted the money at the end. Surprisingly, we raised £531.37. After we raised the money, we went in our last day to the place, and we handed over the cheque.
The whole thing finished with a graduation; and that was one of the good things that have happened and I can’t really forget. The whole thing was a great experience; I met wonderful people and made friends that will last a lifetime. To be honest, each individual would take this experience differently; now the only thing that I can do is tell you how much this opportunity changed me and all the good things that brought in my life. But it’s totally up to you if you want to take the challenge and make the most of it.
NCS STARTS AT YES! Don’t you forget that!"