So for the past 4 days (06.11.2017 – 09.11.2017), I have been on work placement as part of a module in university. I went to an interesting manor called Great Potheridge House, where Encompass Training run outdoor activities and other centre based acivities.
I was invited to assist with a group of London college students completing part of their NCS (National Citizen Service) from start to finish, and I thought it would be a great way to start placement. I have assisted in many sessions in various local centres over the last 2 years, and I thought assisting with a group of London based teens would be very different to more local groups – and how right I was.
The first day was simple – I helped out with getting each group to their rooms, and various other admin. The highlight from today was when one of the teens got out of the bus and looked with amazement at a bale of straw. They explained they had never seen one in real life, and so they went and touched it, still looking a bit flabbergasted
During the second day, I was based at the centre, helping out with the crate stack and tree abseil activities. The weather was classic Devon style – it rained for the whole day, up until the sessions had just ended. Thankfully, I had kitted myself out with a set of waterproofs, but even so, my hands were numb from doing so much rope work.
For the third day, I was based at their private lake (about 10 minutes away from the centre), and the weather was stunning. Although it was cold, the groups had much more motivation. A lot of the teens were refusing to take part today however, as they didnt want to get their hair wet. I assisted in canoeing and raft building sessions. At the end of the session, they had a quick review, and it was very satisfying to hear how much they enjoyed all of the sessions. The main issue that the groups suggested was that the food was a bit bland – however, I felt lucky to be even getting hot meals for those few days. This issue was overcome later that day when the centre did a BBQ for the group.
That evening, things got rather interesting. One group of teens felt like their NCS leader was not resepcting them, so they decided to start vandalising the manor (which is a listed historical building built in the 1600s, by the way). This lead to the centre manager calling the police. By the end of all the chaos that came after, we ended up having several police officers (including some undercover) turn up to the centre. Thankfully, it was all over by around midnight, and so I still got a decent night of sleep.
I was quite shocked by this behaviour, and I thought it was very disrespectful, however it gave me a lot to reflect on afterwards.
The last day was another easy day – it consisted of packing away bedding and helping the groups leave the site. I really appreciated this oppertunity I was given, and although it was very dramatic, it has given me an insight into more centre work. All of the staff I worked with were fantastic, and I will definitely go back for further sessions.