NCS Adventures!!!

September 12, 2015

Guys I'm soooo sorry for such a late post! For those of you who don't know, I have been taking part in the NCS (the National Citizen Challenge) for the past couple months. If you are 16/17 years old, you can take part in this amazing program and learn new skills, challenge yourself and make a whole new family! I will have to admit that I was terrifyingly scared when I went on the first day because I didnt know anyone, but I don't regret anything that has happened and I have loved the entire experience.

The First Week- Activities

The NCS challenge lasts for three weeks, plus extra Sundays, and the first week is centred on challenging yourself. Which means you have to face your fears. Which means that you have to do some scary stuff. Great.
As well as conquering your troubles, you are stuck with people you have never spoken to before, 24/7, for an entire month. Yay. 
The day began with everybody arriving at the pickup point and being sorted into groups. The awkward silence couldve been only cut by a chainsaw. Eventually, after some frustratingly typical ice breakers that adults make us do (you know the ones) everyone in our group were acquainted. Then came the 6 hour drive to the middle of nowhere. Thats right, Yorkshire. *shudders at the thought of no wifi for a week*.

After an extremely tedious coach trip, we all managed to stumble off of the coach into, yes I'm being serious, the middle of some random field. We couldve been anywhere in the world. After lugging what seemed like 50 million suitcases off of the steaming hot coach (yes, they were trying to cook us alive) we stumbled into a large open room where dinner was served. There were six large tables, a table assigned for each team, where we were supposed to eat and talk and just tolerate eachother. 

The meal which we had all been craving all day long was not something to be happy about. We had a sort of concoction of rice and water which should never be spoken of again. Lets just say the bins were overflowing by the end of the meal and the sound of grumbling tummies was getting louder by the minute.

Then we were sorted into our rooms. In my room were two girls who felt just as awkard as I did (at least I wasnt the only one!) and we just had to get on with it. But hey, at least we weren't in a room with 19 other girls. Just think of all that gossip!

The second day consisted of us hiking for what seemed like a month to a secluded campsite, once again in the middle of nowhere. 

After an annoyingly sleepless night in a tent sleeping in unwashed sleeping bags (ewwwwwww), we woke up to the thought of water rafting in freeeeeeeezing cold water. Brilliant.

We were put up against another of the six teams and were given 30 minutes to make a raft out of barrels, rope and wooden beams. After that, we were all forced on top of the raft and had to push it into the water and paddle to the other side. Shockingly, our team actually won! (And continued to rub it in the other teams' faces the entire three weeks cos we are modest winners obviously).

After that we went back to the campsite and took part in activities such as high ropes, rock climbing, abseiling and dressing our team leader up as a superhero, you know, as you do.

The Second Week-Skills

So our group was called Team Jackman, and our skill was music. Other skills included enterprise, photography, drama, media and sport. We all got on a 30 minute coach ride to, once again, a vast wasteland of field, and arrived with all our bags thinking the worst. Behind a collection of trees stood 30 Yertz (strange tents for 4 people) that we would be sleeping in every night.  There were also huge marquee type tents that were our living quarters and kitchens for the week as well. So no gas, electricity, heat or WIFI. WI NO FI???

Everyday we had to get on a coach to the Vibe Centre in Barking, which was where we would be continuing our musical training so-to-speak.
Mostly everyone in our group played at least 2 instruments and or sang and we were all extremely excited to think about all the guitars we would be playing, the harmonies we would create and the piano riffs that would ring of the walls. However we were not that lucky. 

Samba reggae was our forte, and percussion had now become our friend. We had to begin with body percussion, ie slapping yourself silly until you have embarrassing red marks all over your body that people question: "what happened to your face? Oh well I was just beating myself you know, why not, but its fine as long as it sounds pretty !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Annnyyywaaayy, it turns out that there is a showcase at the end of the week where everybody performs their skill. So now everybody is super duper troopa nervous (like that Mamma Mia reference there) and everyone is focused on their performance. Drama did a dramatasing of dramatically being dramatic, Enterprise and Media made their own films, Photography showed off the pictures they took, the show was going well. Parents were sitting everywhere silently constantly judging, I mean watching politely, and the buzz of nervous filled the room as if it a giant hive. Then Music was up. Oh goodness gracious me. We had decided to combine slapping with samba drum beats, a bit o Black Eyed Peas and some awkwardly placed clapping. It sounded......interesting.

Everyone clapped when it was over, mostly out of pity, but some out of cynical enjoyment at us making fools of ourselves. Then we all left to go home, and have a nice break from everything. Oh wait, there is a third week.

The Third Week - Charity

Each team arrived, begrudgingly, on Monday morning and were each given a charity. The aim of this week was to visit the charity, find out information about it, collate evidence and create supporty and donation for our chosen charity. The charity Team Jackman had was called ELVis, East London Vision, and we worked closely with visually impaired people in an attempt to support their charity. This week was all a large build up to the last day, Pitch Day, where we showed everything that we had worked for and what we were aiming to achieve, to our very own NCS dragons (from Dragons Den). So really the entire week was extremely boring and tedious until Friday came around. The excitement was ripe in the room, hushed whispers echoed off of the walls and reverberated into our quivering ears as we had to watch everyone elses much better, of course, pitches before we had our very own. The aim was to get £50 from the dragons to go towards our campaign day. Tensions were running high. Everyone wanted that money for one obvious reason- to buy pizza, duh! 
When the pitches were finished, we all gathered on the brink of excitemnet to find out which smug team beat us, only to have then shout our team name!!! Our entire group erupted into fits and bursts of whooping, yelling and one boy even started opera singing!!! We were ecstatic because we had won on the last day, our last moments together were victorious!

But no. The torture was not yet over. We had to come back every single Sunday for a month to spend more quality family time together as we worked on our winning campaign. No, i'm only joking, I love everyone in my team and I wouldnt change them for the world. LOVE YOU TEAM JACKMAN WOOP WOOP! (Oooh got all emotional there for a second).

So I hope this gives you all an idea of what NCS is like and I know I moan alot, but I really had an amazing time, met an entire new family of incredible people and learnt so many lifeskills that you can only learn by being surrounded by so many different types of people. The NCS has been a long, interesting process that I would relive every day if I could (plus it looks great on a CV!!)

Once again sorry for the late post! Below are a couple pics from my NCS adventures. Keep being fabulous, Mwah from Mel 😘

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