Back in action! October Half Term 2020

This year has taken us all by surprise and had a huge impact on the programme we could run. Determined to continue supporting our vulnerable young people, we’ve been adaptive, inventive and committed to reaching out to them in as many ways as we can through remote mentoring, challenges and projects, and with great success.

Over the October Half Term, we were excited to be able to get back to doing what we love best; working directly with our young people and inspiring them to take part in a whole host of activities. Across 11 adventurous days for small groups run right across Wiltshire and Swindon, we gave our vulnerable young people a much-needed opportunity to get out in nature, work with new people, volunteer locally and challenge themselves.

As you can imagine running our activity days in the current climate threw up some interesting challenges. We had to adapt many of the activities we usually run to fit in with government and National Youth Agency guidance, following strict protocols and risk assessments. Throughout the week our young people showed great maturity and understanding in helping us to work within these guidelines.

Despite these changes, the young people, volunteers, and staff alike enjoyed the days immensely. Here are just a few stories from an epic week of fun!

We spent four days at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust sites across the county, having lots of fun, learning new skills, and contributing valuable work in creating and maintaining habitats for wildlife. Our young people got the opportunity to learn new skills including pollarding and ancient fencing techniques. They also tried their hands at Willow weaving, fire lighting, whittling and raft building.

Two fantastic days were spent at a local activity centre where young people had the chance to try activities such as archery and tree climbing, whilst honing their map reading skills to navigate to a host of other woodland games and challenges.

Across another five action packed days we saw our young people excel in a wide range of challenges. In an autumnal woodland, they worked in teams, using GPS devices to find games and puzzles hidden in the woods. At another site the young people utilised their map skills to get to challenges dotted across the venue, earning points in everything from ‘extreme fishing’ to assault courses.

With some challenging weather across the half term, our young people – and volunteers! – showed amazing resilience to keep the smiles on their faces and challenge themselves in so many ways.

After such a uniquely demanding year for everyone – not least our young people – it was really valuable to see them face to face again. Although we have had online contact with many of them, it felt great to get outdoors once more, creating opportunities for our young people to challenge themselves and take part in adventures. The week was full of achievements and really showed that the Trust’s commitment to supporting our young people, regardless of the challenging environment 2020 has created, which means the world to the young people we work with and truly changes lives.

“I started doing video calls then something happened with my mum…the video calls helped. It just helped me get out my feelings, telling Youth Adventure how I felt… since I got to do the calls I felt less stressed…they helped me to learn to express my feelings more. Youth Adventure Trust helped me express my feelings when I couldn’t tell other people” Jack, age 13yrs