What an amazing opportunity for 48 teenagers from Leeds who were able to attend a residential outward bound course held at the beautiful Aberdovey in Mid-Wales. They have had the chance to experience: jetty jumping, kayaking, rock climbing, team building exercises, blindfold games, beach touch rugby and many more activities.
The programme is organised and run by Leeds Rugby Foundation, but it can only happen due to our generous sponsors Irwin Mitchell LLP and Geoff Caplan. The aim of the outward bound is to offer experiences to young men that may not have be offered these opportunities otherwise, in a bid to raise confidence, try something new, make friends and be proud of their achievements.
An early start at Kirkstall for the 48 young people, who have been nominated from various rugby league and union community clubs from around Leeds, accompanied by 5 Leeds Rugby Foundation staff and volunteers: Sam Horner, Danny Edmondson, Lucy Hack, Ben Rowe and Jess Bowman. We set off to Aberdovey in Mid-Wales, a small peaceful seaside village nestling on the north side of the Dyfi estuary.
Lucy Hack, postgraduate in sport development, commented, “After meeting the kids, I can’t wait to get stuck into the activities… it’s going to be rewarding on so many levels for all!”
After a long coach journey and a ‘meet and greet’ with the outward bound staff and course leader Kate Sharples, the 48 candidates are placed into teams. Rules are read and they are shown their dorms and facilities. Mid-afternoon everyone is out for a jog and a dip in the cold water estuary. After dinner there is another set of evening activities including high wire lead, climbing Jacobs ladder, climbing the 12ft wall or team building games.
After breakfast it is explained to the participants that points are rewarded for :
And bonus points for a quiet nights…
It’s non-stop rain, but nothing is cancelled – it’s out for the day’s activities including Danny’s group tackling the ominous Jacob’s Ladder. I joined Jess’s and Lucy’s team to participate in the highly challenging commando crawl; a rope is secured across the jetty and every member of the group have to cross the water, I was impressed with everyone’s courage to have a go – I’ll let you guess whether I made it. Whilst I was drying myself off, Ben’s group were busy organising and packing up their equipment for tomorrow’s rock climb.
After a well deserved and delicious dinner, I popped my head round the door of a very interesting education exercise that Ben’s group were involved in, each member of the team were blindfolded and had to help each other out to complete the task.
There was some time to relax before bedtime and then the fire alarm went off and the drill exercise took place at the flag. At 11pm it was back to the dorms, light off and sleep ready for a full day of kayaking and rock climbing in the morning.
A good night’s sleep and breakfast was followed by an inspection of the dorms, and then the teams went their separate ways for the day’s activities. Jess’s and Lucy’s group headed for the wharf to go kayaking. Danny’s and Ben’s group went rock climbing. I spent the majority of the day at the wharf.
After a briefing on the bus, wet suits and buoyancy aids were distributed out to the group. The boys were taught the logistics of how to get the kayak out of the water. Everyone met at the beach where the tide and wind were fighting each other – the tides would change a 12:30pm so we decided to head out quickly after the lesson. Straight away the lads were finding it difficult to steer and capsizing was a bit of a pastime. It was hard going and there was very little progression so the staff made the decision to go back to base, have some lunch. We then played some beach touch rugby, which the boys enjoyed having the oportunity to “bash” the staff. Back up to the wharf where the sea level was just right for a jetty jump, most participated.
Meanwhile, Danny’s and Ben’s groups had had a testing day on the rocks, climbing and abseiling. Apparently, the groups had demonstrated good teamwork, courage and determination.
By late afternoon all the groups had to pack ready for the three day expeditions. After dinner, I met up with Ben’s group who were out in the grounds blindfolded. They had to communicate to guide themselves around a series of obstacles – a great exercise.
Lights out at 10:30pm, but a very noisy group and a few incidents meant it was down to the flag for 50 press ups, Danny’s famous step runs, finished off with the old fashioned arm raises, I hope they’ve learnt their lesson.
Day 4 – Day 6
Early start – all packed and ready for the three day expedition, a beautiful lake set in and around steep hills, not unlike an amphitheatre. They will then take a pathway back to the Outward Bound Centre.
Jess’s team: After rock climbing and camping for the night nearby, Jess’s team walked over Barmouth timber bridge and then started their climb up into the hills, they will be camping tonight at Llyn y Gadair, ready for their next route up and over Cadair Idris. They will be picked up on Friday after lunch and back to the Centre.
Ben’s team: After Kayaking the Estuary and landing on the muddiest beach in the world at Mawddach Crescent, Barmouth. They will make their way into the hills and camp at Llyn Cycri. After a restful night!!! They will climb the summit of Cadair Idris and then into the valleys to camp again and then on Friday morning they will make their way back to the Centre.
Lucy’s team: After rock climbing Lucy’s team will follow another route to the summit of Cadiar Idris and last night they actually stayed in a shelter on the mountain top. Thursday morning they will be walking down and picking up a route towards the Outward Bound log cabin, where they will spend the night and where I (Sam Horner) will join them at this point. The next morning we will all head back to the centre.
Dan’s team: started their adventures Kayaking, followed by a walk to to setup camp. After a night under the stars they set off again for Cadair Idris (The Giants Seat), climbing up the mountain’s 893metre summit and back down to camp again at Llyn Cyri, a beautiful lake set in and around steep hills, not unlike an amphitheatre. They then took a pathway back to the Outward Bound Centre.
Jess’s team: after rock climbing and camping for the night nearby, Jess’s team walked over Barmouth timber bridge and then started their climb up into the hills. They then camped at Llyn y Gadair, ready for their next route up and over Cadair Idris.
Ben’s team: After Kayaking the Estuary and landing on the muddiest beach in the world at Mawddach Crescent, Barmouth, they made their way into the hills and camp at Llyn Cycri. The next day they climbed the summit of Cadair Idris and then into the valleys to camp again.
Lucy’s team: After rock climbing Lucy’s team followed another route to the summit of Cadiar Idris and stayed in a shelter on the mountain top, on Thursday morning they walked down and picked up a route towards the Outward Bound log cabin where they spent the night and where I met up with them. The next morning we all headed back to the centreLucy’s team: After rock climbing Lucy’s team will follow another route to the summit of Cadiar Idris and last night they actually stayed in a shelter on the mountain top. Thursday morning they will be walking down and picking up a route towards the Outward Bound log cabin, where they will spend the night and where I (Sam Horner) will join them at this point. The next morning we will all head back to the centre.
It is time to head home. We said a massive thank you to all the staff at the Outward Bound Centre, who were amazing and who inspired us all. We have all had a brilliant and exhausting time!
I would like to thank all the participants, sponsors and staff for a fantastic week. I look forward to planning 2013!