I'm currently laying in bed, full of cold, feeling sorry for myself and being absolutely un productive with my day (a girl deserves a day off sometimes right?!) So instead of sitting here and watching countless poor shows on CBBC (yep, its come to that) I thought I would fill you all in with my NCS experience this year. Sit back, relax (cliché) and maybe grab something to drink - as I feel like this might be a long one!
What is NCS?!
NCS (National Citizen Service) is a voluntary programme aimed at 15-17 year olds where all participants are given challenges and targets to improve their social skills and help them overcome personal goals. Pretty good definition that I remember off by heart on their website (sort of.) So as I said its a completely voluntary programme and it consists of 3 or 4 weeks of one persons summer (but it also takes place in the holidays over the school year.) The weeks consist of at least 3 different weeks - week one is activity week, week two is residential stay at a local university and week three to four is for your group and yourself to plan a social action project to help someone in the community out. After you have completed all the weeks - you receive UCAS points for university along with memories for a lifetime!
The cost of the programme (for me) was £50* which covers you for the whole 3-4 weeks that you're there (I was there for 4 weeks.)
*It depends how you choose to sign up for the programme - I did it off my own back, where as other did it through their school or college.
Why did you do NCS?
Week one: activity week at Kingswood
Well not so much for me... I hate heights, I feel like I'm not in control of my surroundings when I'm up there and my mind goes to the worst places at times - so understandably I was not taking part in the height orientated activities. Which was a bummer as most of the daily activities were height based so I didn't want to take part. However, other than solo activities like this where you earn points for your team there was also activities that took part (on the ground) that you did with your group - team building essentially. So thats what we had to do during the days and to fuel us up we had our meals on site...they weren't exactly the nicest things I've ever eaten (lets put it this way, the first night made most people get food poisoning :))
It was very poorly organised in all honesty - our team leaders didn't seem to have a clue what was going on half the time and the activities I was promised to do weren't involved at all in our schedule. For example: if something said you were doing water rafting what would you expect? You and your team in a lake building a life-size raft for you all to race on? Not tying two water bottles together with pieces of string and paper to put down some piping tubes? Well we did exactly that - very disappointing! To change this - we finally got to do some water orientated activity - we went dragon boat racing! That was quite enjoyable as my team and I had gotten past the awkward phase of not knowing one another and worked as a team and we actually won some races!
So the first week was over within a matter of days - it wasn't as enjoyable as I wished but I think my team for the next 3 weeks made it all the better:
Week two: residential stay
So in the Kingswood week, we had to put together a shopping list under a £200 budget (something like that!) This shopping list was food to last us the week and make 17 portions of 3 meals a day. That meant a lot of bread, pasta and cheese in our case! Each day a different team of 3 would cook and clean after every meal (my team was toasties and pasta - which went down quite well and didn't take up too much of our time, besides a few pieces of burnt toast...) During this week we had different life experience lessons which taught us many different skills like what different bank accounts are available and how much tax you need to pay to how to write a "proper good CV" and what to include on personal statements.
As well as learning these valuable life skills - one of our days consisted of us visiting Sky studios! I was extremely excited to go here, since as you keen readers will know its my dream to work in an industry that Sky provides. We arrived and we were introduced to a day programme called Sky Academy. This is where as a whole group (my team and 3 other teams) had to make a fake new report. We were all given separate studios with a high quality camera (much better than my DSLR - and this was their lowest quality of camera they had at the studios, I think they did cost a few grand as well!) in front of a green screen and a editing suite on the side.
Before we went into the studios - we all chose roles to contribute to our teams final film. I thought it was right to be the editor for the group, I have no idea why... Anyways, our reports all became a final show that lasts about 5 minutes and it was extremely funny to watch back as a group and see everyone else's work!
As well as taking part in the academy section of the studios - we were also given a tour of the actual sets of some of the programmes that Sky produce including their sports newsroom. It was so interesting to see this type of thing in the 'flesh' instead of online - to think one day I could be in an industry like this is just amazing!
Week three to four: fundraising week!
Well you can read all about the final 2 weeks here to save you some reading time :)
Anyways, so we held our Queerz night on the Tuesday evening and it was an amazing turnout! We had no room to fit anyone in the end it was crazy! But everyone got involved in the night, we were selling bracelets and doing bucket collection whilst everyone was taking part - during this time we hit this goal on our official donating website:
My final overview of NCS for teens who aren't sure if they should do it or not: just go out and do it! Its just 4 weeks of your ENTIRE life and you will not regret it! Honestly, I hated the first week and was dreading the rest of the weeks - but it turns out to be so much better, perseverance is key!
If you're worried about what your friends will think or that they're not doing it, you will meet the most wonderful and inspirational people there and you will find at least one person who shares the same interest as you! You will feel so rewarded at the end of it.
See you in the next blog post!