I’m an NCS graduate. I took part in the programme in Summer 2016, after finishing my GCSEs.
I remember seeing people in the year above me taking part in NCS in 2015, and thinking that I wanted to do it too. So when we had a presentation about the programme at school, I was so excited! When signing up, we were given the option of four different ‘waves’ available to us. Over the next few weeks, meetings were held and we were given information packs and consent forms.
A couple of months before the programme started, we were invited to team days. This gave us the opportunity to meet some of the other people that would be taking part, and some of the leaders. On this day, we played some team building games and had conversations about why we were taking part, and what sort of things to expect.
Then after months of waiting, the day finally came. We were on Phase 1 – Adventure of the four-week programme, and headed off to an outdoor education centre. After arriving, we met our roommates. We had previously given the names of our friends who were on the programme, so that majority of us could be placed in the same rooms. However, we had a girl in our room that was on her own, but we bonded very quickly. That evening, we were introduced to the people who would be in our teams for the whole programme, and we played some games to get to know each other better. Apart from two or three people, everyone in my team was from my school, or the local area. Although this could be seen as a negative because ‘I should have interacted with new people’, I wasn’t really ‘friends’ with these people before the programme. Now we all have a closer bond, and still even have an active group chat!
Week one was emotional. I’m not a very ‘outdoorsy’ person and there were many things that I didn’t really want to do, but I pushed myself to do as much as I could. Our team mentors always encouraged us to take part, but never made us feel uncomfortable. One of my favourite activities from week one was raft building – we had limited supplies and had to build a raft that would support the whole team. This led to a few disagreements but in the end, our raft lasted for about a good 2 minutes before the ropes came undone and we all fell in!
At the end of the week, it was back home for two days to wash my clothes and rest before Phase 2 – Discovery started.
I loved the second week! We stayed at a university, and experienced what student life was like. Everyone was given a room in a flat, and we were given a budget to buy enough food to last us a whole week. During this week, we attended different workshops, including: Body Image and Self-Confidence and First-Aid and Positive Thinking. I really enjoyed these workshops as they started a conversation amongst us, and we all shared our feelings on topics that are usually ignored. Phase 2 also gave us a lot more free time. The Olympics were on that summer, so that was always on the TV in our flat. It was this week that I felt more confident and able to talk to others, and I made more friends. We also worked more in our teams during the evening activities. My favourite was the Lip Sync Battle – each team was given 30 minutes to create a routine for two songs to perform to everyone. My team came second! (Personally, I still think we should have won!)
And then the second week came to a close, and we all said goodbye to each other. We knew that some of us wouldn’t see each other again properly until graduation, so this was a sad moment for many.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first two weeks with NCS, and signing up was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made!