The summer holidays are approaching and if your kids are anything like mine they will be complaining from day one that they are bored but not interested in going to any of the places you suggest. If like me you also have a child in year 11 you will know that the summer holidays are even longer than usual as they undertake their GCSE exams and will need something to keep them busy before embarking on new adventures come September.
I first heard about National Citizen Service (NCS) a few weeks ago when my daughter was told about it at school, a few of her friends have already signed up and she is still contemplating it, her biggest worry is that she wont know anybody that goes at the same time as her. My 19 year old daughter says one of her biggest regrets was not signing up to NCS. She didn’t even tell me about it when she left school because she wasn’t interested in going but loads of her friends went and still rave about it and meet up with people that they met on the residential and she feels like she missed out on a great opportunity!
So you are probably wondering what NCS is?
What is NCS and how does it work?
NCS is a 4 – 6 week programme aimed at 15 – 17 year olds where they come together in their local community to build life skills and take part in a residential trip full of adventure. The programme is split into 4 phases:
A five-day, four-night residential based away from home with fun activities such as canoeing, rock climbing and abseiling. A chance to meet new people and enjoy some adventure, fun and freedom!
A further 5 days and four nights in a uni-style environment where you’ll develop life skills like confidence, leadership and communication to boost your CV or UCAS personal statement.
Working in teams, you’ll put your new skills into practice by delivering a community project of your choice. Plan, fundraise, make a difference!
You and your mates will get together to celebrate your achievements. NCS opens up a world of opportunities, giving you exclusive access to work placements, volunteering and events
We all know that it is easy for teenagers to get caught up in certain crowds and with individuals that we may not think is a great influence or our little cherubs and many people complain that government cuts mean there is nowhere for their kids to go to pass time and enjoy themselves. NCS is a government backed scheme and was established to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens by bringing young people from different backgrounds to share in this unique experience.
It is inevitable that there will be marathon sessions of FIFA or Fortnight and probably binge watching a few Netflix series but if you want to get your teen off the sofa this summer then checkout the NCS website where you can sign up! There are still plenty of places available and you can fit it around other commitments over the summer such as family holidays. This year more than 100,000 teenagers from different backgrounds will come together in common purpose on NCS. That means one in six of the cohort of 16 year olds will live together, develop skills together and build community projects together.
So I imagine you are wondering how much it costs to keep a teenager busy for four whole weeks?
Well this is the good part… It’s £50!
Yes £50 includes all food, activities and accommodation, probably less than you spend on one days childcare, and bursaries are also available on a case by case basis. More than 400,000 teenagers have already taken part in this government backed scheme since it started in 2011 and I am off to try and convince my daughter that taking part is going to be so much more fun than me dragging her around all the museums in London over summer.
*written in collaboration with National Citizen Service and all images provided by them
When I booked tickets for my kids to Go Ape at Battersea park my idea was that they would enjoy themselves whizzing around the treetops while I went for a winter stroll around the park, I didn’t realise that it would fall on the only day that it was to snow in our part of town.
It didn’t go off to a great start as it was a freezing cold day and although the snow looked really pretty it was also raining which kind of takes the magic out of it. Following that I booked the kids on the junior trail of Go Ape which they were not impressed with as they have been a few times and consider themselves pros at it!
What I love about Go Ape at Battersea Park is that it overlooks the children’s adventure playground so if you have younger children they can play for free as the bigger kids climb around in the trees while still in sight if they need a bit of encouragement.
All suited up and briefed about the safety of the course and the kids were ready to go…
Understandably the park was empty when we visited but there was a whole party of children on the Go Ape course, unfortunately my kids seemed to be stuck behind them as a few were really scared and needed help from staff members to get across a couple of obstacles. I really love the idea of trails across the trees but having been up there myself I know how scary it looks and I do think there should be some way of letting more competent users pass as it is no fun standing for half an hour in the freezing cold waiting for your turn, and even less fun standing on the ground watching your kids waiting for half an hour for their turn.
Between each bridge is a standing platform that can hold three people and each bridge can only hold two people so as you can imagine when it is busy it does take longer to get around. As it was snowing it was also quite slippery which I imagine makes it a lot more challenging!
I would like to say that the kids loved their experience of Go Ape as they usually do but like most of the little ones on the day, they just came off complaining that they were cold and wanted to go inside in the warmth. Because of the hold up they only managed to go around the course once instead of the usual two or three goes but as they were so cold I’m not sure they would have wanted to keep going anyway.
In the winter months Go Ape in Battersea park is only open weekends and half term holidays, I would definitely recommend that if you don’t want miserable children that you should wait until the weather warms up a bit before sending yours up into the trees.
Have your little ones ever tried Go Ape before?