It’s youth work… in the outdoors.
Youth workers and young people successfully created an outdoor learning environment for members of our Junior Plus (Age 10 – 11), Seniors (Age 12 – 13) and Senior Plus (Age 14 to 18) age-groups. Almost 200 children and young people benefited over a three-week period.
Each spent 5-days exclusively residential on the site exploring the topics of anxiety (linked to high-school transition); emotions and anger management; and sexual health, respectively over a three week period.
Members of our Senior Plus cohort worked collectively on a sexual health project exploring issues such as contraception, safe-sex, healthy relationships and the signs of grooming and child exploitation. The young people, all aged 14-18, took a deep-dive into the issues around these subjects and identified the issues that affect them the most. The #1 fear being they are unable to just enjoy child-centric spaces (such as play-areas and parks) without the fear of being groomed or becoming unknowingly at risk of harm. However, by placing young people in charge of their own learning we were able to support them in identifying the signs of these risks and support them with mechanisms of safeguarding.
The Seniors (Age 12 – 13) chose to explore anger-management as their topic and reached the conclusion, in their own words, that “we cannot control our emotions, but we can control our actions and the potential consequences can help us with this decision”.
The groups all created incredible pieces of legacy work on long rolls of paper, which they then stuck onto thin-boards painted with pictures of their environments, which they considered instrumental to their learning.
The Juniors Plus camp was quite unique in the sense that all 60 of the children were participating under the leadership of our newly qualified Young Leaders (Aged 15 and 16) in a programme around the worries and anxieties of adolescence. The Young Leaders were being supported under the mentorship of our young adult leaders, which was overseen by fully-qualified Youth Workers.
We also had a team of aspiring Young Leaders (Aged 13 and 14) providing operational support to the camp in the form of a Youth Service Crew who were being inspired in their learning by their older peers.
As a learning organisation, it’s about us creating a notion that there is a toolbox for every person of every age-group to create their own pathway. This is a key determinant in the success and sustainability of our organisation.
Naturally, camp life wasn’t just about the topic-based programme we were following but also a comprehensive activity schedule including grass-sledging, canoeing, rock-climbing, crate-stacking and more. Young people were also supported to fully engage in terms of the cooking, cleaning, washing-up and support towards basic maintenance duties.
It’s participative youth work at its best. Enabling young people to lead their best lives.