While these are both huge steps and helping to prepare them for the road that lay ahead, what about the other stuff? You know, things like learning how to problem-solve, bond with strangers and push physical boundaries. Of course, we do some of these things at home in various ways but having Mum on hand pretty much 24/7 kind of takes away the satisfaction of going it alone!
I personally grew up spending most of my time outdoors with friends who lived on our street, climbing trees in the local countryside, making daisy chains and catching frogs in rivers (no, I didn’t grow up in an Enid Blyton book).
However, I never really ventured far from home in my teenage years and in hindsight, wish I’d have had the opportunity to meet new people from different cultures and cities during this important period; something that most of us only do when/if we go off to university.
NCS (National Citizen Services) gives teenagers aged 16-17 the chance to do just that.
What is NCS?
NCS (National Citizen Services) is a government-backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.
The whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs just £50 and bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is also provided for young people with additional needs.
If (like me) you worry about your ‘babies’ being away from home the first time, fear not! All staff and volunteers are subject to enhanced DBS checks and all venues are rigorously audited to ensure the highest standards of safety for your peace of mind.
How does it work?
This experience consists of four phases, lasting two-four weeks in total:
Phase One – Adventure
Living with a team at an outdoor activity centre, teens can get to know some amazing people and enjoy some quality time away from home in a group of 12-15 incredible people they’ve never met before (aka the chance to make some new friends!)
The participants will then be reunited with their group in a uni-style environment where they’ll develop life skills like confidence, leadership and communication to help boost their CV or UCAS personal statement.
They could meet organisations and important people from the local community whilst potentially discovering something new about themselves. Maybe they have a surprise passion for photography, editing, football coaching or even an interest in setting up their own business.
Phase Three – Social Action
This is where the NCS experience all comes together. All the fun and inspiration from the first two phases means the teens are ready to step up and deliver their very own social action project. To plan, fundraise and really make a difference.
Phase Four – Celebration
At the end of the experience, they will get exclusive access to potential volunteering offers and apprenticeships, as well as discounts and big events. This opportunity really is something special!
My girls tend to spend the summer holidays cooped up indoors, glued to their phones, indulging in expensive trips to the cinema or shopping. This time, I’d like to give them something more.
NCS is also flexible so can work around any existing holidays or commitments that you and your teen may have. There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now, go to the NCS website.