23 November 2016

14 of our youth advisory board, Dare London, ventured out into the Ashdown Forest for their annual residential. This year there was a key focus on how the board can shape our strategy and more widely, youth work in London.

After a busy journey on a jam packed commuter train to East Grinstead and a short drive in the Hindleap Mini buses, they finally arrived on Friday evening excited for the weekend ahead. The first job of the evening was deciding what activities would be on the agenda for Sunday. The group settled on a democracy and voted for the most popular activities. Archery and high ropes came out on top.

Following a much needed dinner, the group embarked on a dark and cold orienteering session. But the weather did not dampen their competitive spirits! After just over an hour, all 14 young people returned from the 300 acre Forrest (much to the staffs delight!). It was lights out by 12, a busy day lay ahead.

On Saturday morning the group got down to business. They headed back into the forest for some team challenges which saw even Rosemary, London Youths Chief Executive and Phil, Director of Programmes, swinging from the trees in a bid to get everyone across the treacherous (and imaginary) shark infested waters. A fantastic team effort means each challenge was completed.

After changing out of our muddy clothes and wellies, we headed inside for an afternoon of London Youth education. Rosemary took to the floor first, introducing the new London Youth strategy. It was a fantastic opportunity for our young people to learn about what we do but also for them to feedback their ideas.

Phil then delivered a short “Leadership 101” session for our youth board. They will all be chairing a meeting throughout the next few months and are all role models in their youth clubs and communities. The session was fantastic, with all of the young people feeding back later on they each took away new learning they cannot wait to put into practice.

After a long day of learning, we headed to the Hindleap bushcraft village for a relaxing camp fire where we toasted marshmallows and popped corn on the fire. One of Dare London volunteered to cook the popcorn but unfortunately cooked it too well leading to another fire that was swiftly put out by Tom and Ebony, our skilled instructors for the evening.

On Sunday our Dare Londoners took on high ropes and archery. Their attitudes still positive even with the freezing cold temperatures! One of our aims of the weekend was to learn more about each other. One thing we learnt was that many of the group were afraid of heights but with some encouragement from the team, even the most scared conquered their fears and attempted the high ropes course. Archery is always a favourite at Hindleap, it probably helped that it was inside, sheltered from the rain.

The whole weekend was a roaring success. Friendships have been made and a strong team has been formed. We very much look forward to seeing what the youth board will do over the next 7 months.

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