Adventure Breaks for Young People
A story by Quarriers
We provided Adventure Breaks an exciting partnership between Quarriers, Outfit Moray and its partners Earthtime and the Elgin Youth Café and Elgin High School.
Adventure Breaks aimed to make outdoor learning and adventure accessible to all, irrespective of ability, financial position or location and provided activities such as abseiling, canoeing and mountain biking to actively develop potential by building self-confidence, growing self-esteem, encouraging life skills, increasing happiness and improving health and well-being.
What Adventure Breaks for Young People did
Elgin High School identified 40 young people who met the criteria for participation (engagement in activities hindered by additional needs, no social work/other support services input, S1-S3 year groups), each of whom were approached and offered the opportunity to participate.
Families were provided with information about the project, the break provider and the potential activities on offer. Young people and their parents were invited to an information evening at the school where Quarriers and Outfit Moray explained in more detail what was proposed. As a result 15 young people signed up to take part but most, and their families required assurance and encouragement throughout the process. Outfit Moray worked with participants to plan, create and deliver the breaks.
Following significant problems securing appropriate accommodation to enable residential breaks, the delivery model was adjusted to reduce the number of breaks but increase the numbers of participants who could be supported. Findhorn Village Centre agreed to provide flexible accommodation over three weekends and were able to accommodate the combination of participants, volunteers and instructors.
Residential breaks took place during September and October, with groups trying coasteering and kayaking. Feedback on the activities was positive, from participants, volunteers and instructors, and coasteering unanimously agreed as the favourite! So much so that when given the choices for the day breaks, each group chose coasteering, because the feedback had been so good.
Over the year, Quarriers delivered, 3 x weekend residential stays, 2 days + overnight stay at Findhorn Bunkhouse, 3 x activity days, 3 single days’ activity. Participants
Residential was 14 x 30 hours, days 15 x 5 hours, 29 attendances with the total break hours = 495 hours and parent respite hours = 775 hours
When Quarriers and Elgin High School made a presentation about the Adventure Breaks Project, Hannah took home the information to Susan as the idea of an adventure holiday appealed to her. Although Hannah required some reassurance from staff to build her confidence to take part, once she was on the adventure break she really enjoyed the activities.
Since taking part, Susan has noticed that Hannah is much more confident about taking part in new activities and has a much broader interest in activities she can take part in.
"My daughter doesn’t like being away from me and had never been away from home over night before. She just loved it! She is now going to Blackpool with the school this year. I can’t say for sure if this is a direct result of her Adventure Breaks experience, but she would never have asked to go to Blackpool a year ago!" - Susan.
John is in S3 at Elgin High and his Mum worries that he does not interact well with other pupils, especially in older age groups, and prefers to stay indoors in his free time. John was nervous about some of the outdoor activities, as he didn't feel he was able to participate in mainstream leisure activities, especially outdoor adventure activities. He was reassured and decided to give the adventure breaks a go.
His Mum's feedback on the weekend break provides a great insight into the change she noticed in her son: "I had a lovely break whilst he was away, knowing that he was doing something physical outdoors and meeting new people as he normally prefers to stay at home and not socialise or partake in activities. John was most nervous about staying with older buddies as he felt older children at school can sometimes be a bit mean, but he loved having them there and still speaks to them at school.
He was so proud of himself having challenged himself to try coasteering. His confidence has increased and he feels more able to join in with new and exciting activities, as well as feeling more comfortable that he can fit in with other people at school."
Through the partnership and working with teachers to better understand the role of short breaks, for example, that these can benefit both the carer and the person they care for we were able to identify over 40 pupils in S2 and S3 that could benefit, including those who may not have been traditionally considered as able to benefit from a short break.
"It was a great opportunity for our son. As his additional needs are low he can sometimes fall between the cracks of mainstream school & those with significant additional needs. Everything seemed well planned and coordinated, and since taking part, his confidence has increased and he feels more able to fit in with other people at school."
What Quarriers has learnedOverall Learning has been, creating and delivering a successful programme involving so many young people requires more time than we allowed. Working with the school offered a fabulous opportunity for both parties, but leaving the contact between the school and family, whilst logical in the circumstances, prevented the development of a relationship between Quarriers and the family that might have enabled increased participation. Feedback from instructors regarding the volunteers' involvement was hugely positive. The whole volunteer element of this project has been a significant success and offered learning for us that we will take into other activity.
The school maintained contact with the potential participants and their families, relying on their existing relationship to encourage participation. This was a positive step and reflected the absolute commitment of the school to the project. However, the long summer holidays meant a period when that contact could not be maintained, and momentum was lost. Due to the nature of the North East weather, Outfit Moray were keen to complete the residential's in the early autumn, which meant securing participants as early as possible on return to school after the summer, but this proved difficult.
The information evening attracted a handful of families already committed to taking part, along with several of the young volunteers, but no new participants. Instead of the 24 young people hoped for, only 15 eventually took part in a break of any sort.