Last year Col was finishing year 11 and looking for something to do for the summer. I happened across a post on social media showing teens getting stuck in to some outdoorsy activities. In the post, the teens were smiling. Actually smiling! Teens!
As any parent of teens can confirm, this is most unusual and as such it caught my eye. I read on. The post was an ad for a scheme called NCS and as it turned out, that post was about to become a big deal for our family.
The National Citizen Service (NCS)
In a time when a lot of what we see in the news are stories of division and intolerance and violence between people, bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience has never been more important. NCS was established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society
This year more than 100,000 teenagers from different backgrounds will come together in common purpose on NCS. The two to four week programme which takes place during the summer holidays includes a week of outdoor team building exercises, a residential week at a university where teens can learn life skills, a community based project to encourage our young people to be more active within their local area and an end of programme celebration event.
In a nutshell, the programme:
- Puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zones and develop their strength of character
- Provides a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace
- Enables young people to connect with their communities through social action.
What’s the catch?
So as I was reading through the list of what was included and all of the benefits I had this niggle that it was going to cost an arm and a leg. I was wrong.
NCS is amazing value for money. 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 you have family time planned already over the summer then worry not! NCS is nationwide so there are many dates to choose from. It’s easy to register your interest online and NCS will be able to find a time to suit your family.
Col got so much out of joining the 400,000 young people who have already taken part in the NCS programme. He was incredibly anxious about the first day but by the end of the first week he was really into it.
Time spent with his peers, concentrating on upping his self esteem and getting to know not only many new friends but to get to know himself too was so important for him.
As a parent I think it is one of the best things Col has ever done. I saw a change in him right away and it was definitely a change for the better! I would urge other Mums and Dads to consider registering their child – I wish we could do it again but this is a one time only deal.
Even though NCS can only be completed once, they are really focused on providing a way for previous participants to keep that mindset of social action. There is a section on their website dedicated to this and they even have an Action Day on March 17th where “Grads” can come together to bring social change to their local communities.
I believe that encouraging our young people to consider their responsibilities to their local community is massively important and the NCS programme mentality will ultimately lead to a better country for all of us. This is an important initiative and anything that gets our teens out of their bedrooms and off their consoles has to be a good thing, right?