Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Posts tagged ‘Outdoor Education’

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!

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!

China Update – 2

Wow! We’ve just had a great weekend at Cobnor Outdoor Actvities Centre with the group of young people heading to China. It was a pretty packed weekend with lots of laughs, and serious discussions. We started off getting to know each other and working out how we wanted to work and live together both on the weekend and while away. It was a busy Friday evening as everyone chatted, learnt how to use the cameras, had the opportunity to diary their early thoughts about the project and chill out playing some old favorites.

It’s been some time since I’ve worked directly with a group so I was a bit nervous and wondered if I could still do it.  It didn’t take long to ‘warm up’ and soon we were all getting that buzz of working together, discovering new people, their hopes, interests and passions!

Saturday morning saw us out in the rain canoeing and climbing (well, I canoed but didnt climb as I had to prepare for the next session). It was an early start and the damp seeped through the skin as we paddled up towards the end of the spit. Most of the group I was with had paddled before so it was a good chance to mix, altough a couple of young people did spend some time going round in circles. Throughout the weekend we’ve been experimenting with a FLIP camera and, having got all our consents, here is a bit of a taster of what the weekend was like!

Saturday afternoon saw us all playing pictionary (!) with a twist of course! The game was fast and furious and was a great opportunity to start raising the question of stereotypes and assumptions (and how these were developed) as ‘old’ was pictured most consistently as an elderly person with a cane and glasses, ‘disabled’ through an individual in a wheelchair, and French with the eiffel tower. It was interesting to see how difficult it was for the group to draw a picture of somewhere they had never heard of, in this instance Bhutan. This was our start of exploring Culture and Identity.

With a chance to explore the papers to see how both China and great Britain were being portrayed headlines abounded and promoted an interesting discussion about where we got our information from about what was happening in the world and how the papers influcences our thoughts. As you can see, with the evening rapidly approaching we got ready to go out for a chinese meal, I know, it’s not the same as in China but the main objective was to encourage the group to use chopsticks and also to try food that they hadn’t tried before. There were a lot of new taste experiences!!!!!

Unfortunately I had to leave later that evening. The group were brilliant and worked really hard as well as having a lot of fun. I’m keen to get an update to see how everyone got on with raft building and putting together a youth opportunity fund bid. I’m sure we’ll have more news to follow soon…..

More news from China

Since I last posted about China here all had been very quiet so I was beginning to worry about how much off the cuff we were going to end up having to work. We have almost got the group of young people together, all aged between 16-19yrs with an interest in youth participation, and truely representative of the county which is great.

greatwall (10)At the end of last week I finally heard from the Shandong Youth Federation and namely the Youngsters Centre of Shandong Province. They have sent through an outline programme so now it is a case of trying not to get too bogged down in Risk Assessments but still ensuring that we have everything covered. (As well as trying to work out how we can / will use social media to support this!)

One of the key difficulties is in trying to understand what is being said in the communications. For instance at the moment the Chinese are keen for us to come earlier in October than we have suggested as it the “Picking Festival of fruits and vegetables” in the place they are suggesting we can stay. The description of the location sounds like a cross between an outdoor centre and an agricultural college….at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it so far. Then there are a lot of cultural visits suggested however I know that when we visited one of the most interesting parts was the discussions and interactions with people, especially young people at the universities and the technical college we went to. So – I need to work out how to politely suggest a bit of an alteration to the programme without being rude and also find out more about the Picking Festival!

Still – how exciting that it is all looking like it might happen….two years in the making but I think we will be able to do some really great youth work with the preparation for the visit, the visit itself and then hopefully hosting a return group next year!

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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