Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for the ‘Outdoor Education’ Category

From CDRP to Yurts!

Driving hectically round the county mulling over how diverse my job is I thought I’d give you a bit of a taste of what I’m up to in the lead up to the summer holidays.

I started off in the office dealing with emails, responding to some press comments, sorting out staffing issues, recruitment, advertising…..I’m sure you know the kind of stuff. Then it was off down the coast to a Crime Disorder and Reduction Partnership – Communications meeting (CDRP) where we were discussing the way in which the partnership communicates what it’s doing to the public. Part of the discussion focused on young people and an idea or two started to germinate around how we might be able to support young people to talk about their communities and what has changed using video blogs and putting them online.I also learnt that you can now get hand held gadgets that you can use for questionnaires and it all happens electronically…..now how much time does that save?!?!?!

Following this meeting it was back in the car again for an hours drive across country to our campsite. Stedham is a beautiful place (you can see some of it on the video) where we (West Sussex County Council, managed through the Youth Service) have a great low impact campsite. Through external funding we are running some targeted summer camps. One week will be focussing on Young Carers and the other will be Children in Care. Due to the uncertainty over the British weather and concerns about having a lot of wet young people we have brought some new Yurts (large Mongolian tents) to use as bases for the differing groups as required. They look like they will really add to our group work but don’t take my word for it….have a look and see what you think!

Snowed Under in June!

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Courtesy of Wonderlane

Yep, it’s almost the summer and here I am Snowed Under! Not literally of course! Although there is lots happening here at the moment and I would love to write about it work is so hectic that I’m just keeping on top of it (hopefully) and can’t get the time to actually comment on anything. (I have to have a bit of time out!) Just to give you a taste of life at this end:-

  • I manage 2 District (Operational) areas usually through team leaders who I work with to strategically plan and organise the delivery of all the statutory youth work in the area. However – one has successfully been promoted (congratulations!) and is now joining us on the Senior Management Team and the other is on long term sick leave. In one area one of neighbourhood workers is successfully acting up however in the other I am directly managing the youthwork staff there. They are a great team and the work that is happening in the area is developing all the time.
  • We’ve got summer camps and positive activities programmes for children (8-13yrs) to organise and set up and run however our first plan for doing this has fallen through due to sickness and difficulties recruiting so we are now on about plan D. Exciting but stressful!
  • Inspire India is in full flow (as is our learning curve with regards to this project!) We have 32 targeted young people (16-19yrs) in the process of getting organised to go on a 4 week overseas experience to India at the end of July follwed up by volunteering in their communities for 3 months on their return. We have had parents / guardians / carers information evenings, residential weekends and staff evenings to contend with. This along with supporting the staff is quite hectic!
  • We’ve had a number of operational issues as well as recruitment difficulties with one of our main outdoor centres. This has been well covered by our new DofE, Accreditation and Outdoor Education Manager who has needed a lot of support as they have only just completed their induction. On top of this they have had to (successfully) deal with an AALA Inspection straight away!
  • Tw0 youth wings are on school sites that are going to be Academies at the start of the next school year.   I need to work closely with the new regimes to organise the youth facilities, service level agreements and also a new build on one site.
  • And then there are the ongoing recruitment issues!

In themselves these, coupled with my other areas of work, aren’t complicated to manage or do. I’ve got a great opportunity to get out and see what is happening on the ground and I’m enjoying getting practical.  However the main issue is that the day job of my strategic leads still needs to be covered. I’ve moved from strategic to operational and trying to juggle the 2 is / has been difficult.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting nearer!! I’ve

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

Courtesy of C.P.Storm

appointed a new team leader who will hopefully start at the end of July, the other team leader who has been ill is due to return very soon and we have a new Outdoor Centre Manager! I’ve also booked time out for most of this week to crack some of my policy / papers/ strategic thinking! So, hopefully this blog will resume in the next few weeks……here’s to the summer!

Charlton Chase 2009

With wind, rain and snow taking up most of last week it was with some trepidation that I could be seen heading out last Saturday night to help out on the Charlton Chase.

This is an all night navigation exercise (depending on skills!) for young people from across West Sussex which has been run annually by the County Youth Service  since 1981.

The support base is at Seaford College (and our thanks to them their continuing help in providing this)  and takes place over open country so young people need to be physically fit, able to navigate at night, have a basic knowledge of first aid, hill walking and be able to look after themselves in adverse conditions. The course consists of six main checkpoints at which the teams can gain points for the completion of exercises designed to test their teamwork and initiative. This year, even with the weather we had over 320 young people taking part (!) in eighty teams and over 100 volunteers supporting the event.

A big congratulations and thank you needs to go to colleagues who put a tremendous  amount of hard work and effort into this, from the co-ordination and administration of teams, to sourcing volunteers to man checkpoints, to working out where the routes will go, to working on the night. And the main thanks must go to our Duke of Edinburghs Award, Outdoor Education and Accreditation Manager  who (amazingly) oversees all bases and keeps it all together in the run up and on the night (in conjunction with the day job!)

Random Post No.1 – Recruitment

Courtesy of Gaetan Lee

Courtesy of Gaetan Lee

Part of why life has been so busy recently has been the sudden upsurge in the number of vacancies and having to get to grips, yet again, with a recruitment system that has changed. As a County we’ve now moved from Job Descriptions and person specs to just the one role profile which has meant rewriting some of our previous info and then going through the whole interview request systems. However, with ads having gone out, shortlisting done, it’s finally interview week for a new Duke of Edinburgh, Outdoor Education and Accreditation Manager as the person who has been doing the job for the past 5 years has moved to another role within the service. She has helped to develop and move forward our work in all areas over the past few years and is still very involved in moving forward our vision of Outdoor Education so don’t go too far!!!

The other posts we are interviewing for are new ones called Postivite Activities for Children Co-ordinators and are stretching our boundaries by being focussed on developing activity programmes for targeted children aged 8-13yrs. I think these will be very exciting and will definately start to fill a gap in our provision whilst also raising interesting questions about Integrated Services and our target age group! (More on that in another post!)

So – here’s to a good and hopefully successful interview week!!

Practising photo sharing with Animoto

Just a few sights and views of Cobnor Outdoor Activities Centre, a centre based in West Sussex that we work closely with to deliver a range of Outdoor Activities  / Outdoor Education for young people of all ages and abilities. I did this through uploading pictures from Flickr across to Animoto and let the magic that is animoto do the rest!

Youth Work and Outdoor Education

WoW! I can’t get over how varied my job can be. Had lots of different discussions and developments today but I will just blog ones I’m pondering.

One of my responsibilities is Outdoor Education. In West Sussex there are 3 Outdoor Activity Centres and a Camp Site. At the moment we are looking to develop work with the outdoor centres, schools, and the youth wings to support the transition for vulnerable children moving up from year 6 to year 7.

 Cobnor Activity Centre

This will hopefully start after the summer half term and will broadly be in three phases. Phase one will be about working across all services to develop the group and start some activities with them, phase two will be some form of outdoor experiences over the summer (a bit like a Junior Activity Club), Cobnor Activity Centreand then phase three is when they start the autumn term and will involve sessions in the Youth Wing, and hopefully some form of peer mentoring. Although this is not necessarily targetting our 13-19 age range there are a number of spin offs.

Firstly there is the major need for integrated working with a range of different partners and services. Then there will be the involvement of young volunteers in running the outdoor activities. At Cobnor Activities Centre a really good volunteer training scheme has been set up to encourage young people to gain outdoor qualifications and then work with children on the summr camps. This has been very successful and developed some of our youth work with the older age range.

I’m also hoping that another spin off is to start encouraging staff and other services in working out how we are going to identify the ‘vulnerable’ young people which can also inform some of the Targeted Youth Support work I will be involved in. So all in all I think that this will be an interesting piece of work with lots of potential.

Cobnor Activity Centre

PS – Thanks DK for talking me though an easier way of posting images……it hasn’t taken me hours this time!!!!

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