This summer, I was lucky enough to go on NCS, a scheme for teenagers who are just leaving school to grab opportunities and gain new experiences.
Apart from catching a cold and doing an exhausting nine-mile walk, I enjoyed it, and would love to do it all over again.
My graduation was on a Sunday morning. So apart from having to get up early, I was very excited to get my certificate and see everyone I had met on the programme. The event was held at a hotel in the town where I live, so my friend and I made our way there for about 10:00am.
The dress code was smart, but not overly so (even though a few people showed up in their prom outfits), and everyone looked fit for the part. There were two rooms in the hotel where the graduation was located. The first one was where we walked in, and had to sign in to tell the NCS crew that we were there. We also had the opportunity to bring guests, but as independent and ‘parent-free’ teenagers are, I decided not to bring anyone with me.
Once we had signed in, I took a look around at the first room. There were drinks and food available to buy, and NCS had decorated it with balloons and banners, to celebrate our achievement.
The next room was where the graduation would be taking place. It looked like a conference room, and as we walked in, there were a line number of chairs all in rows, soon to be filled with NCS grads. My friend and I decided to sit near the front and wait for our other pals to arrive. In front of us there was a stage, where our wave leader would be talking to us all and at the side, a photo corner with an NCS board, and more balloons – the perfect opportunity to snap some Instagram pics.
After about 10 minutes, our wave leader, Andy, started his speech. He spoke to us about the things we had experienced throughout the four weeks, including the adventure week where we had to stay in tents, a week at Staffordshire University (which I enjoyed the most) and two weeks of social action.
We then watched a video filled with all the pictures and videos from our time on the programme. Some were obviously very unflattering but it still showed us the memories we had made and what we achieved during the summer.
After this, we were called up team by team to get our certificates and have group photos. This was the last time all of the groups would be united together. It was great to see everyone again and to talk about how far we had come as a group. After all the teams had their group photos taken, Andy finished his speech saying he hoped we enjoyed the NCS experience. Of course we did!
After Andy’s speech, people started to leave, but my friends and I stayed for a while to take lots of pictures (that ended up on our Insta profiles hours later). We also had pictures with the leaders and our mentors who looked after us, and told them about what we were planning to do next, like college and Sixth Form.
We had catch-ups with everyone and before we knew it, it was time to leave the hotel and go home. I couldn’t believe how quick NCS and the summer had gone – to now think I would be starting college soon, and I was first introduced to NCS when I was in year 11, and told us about this amazing experience we could be part of.
When getting the certificates, we also received a pack, with a magazine written by graduates, our first aid certificate (which we gained on university week) and some more sheets about new opportunities that were available to us, now we had completed NCS and become graduates. I would like to say thank you to the NCS team for being so lovely and giving young people this amazing opportunity. There were hard parts, as well as it being amazing, but that’s all part of the experience! I recommend everyone sign up for NCS. It’s an opportunity I would love to do again, and hopefully, now as a graduate, I can now do other things within NCS, which will help me gain more experience, including writing this blog post! If you want any more details about NCS, you can look on the website, or watch the many YouTube videos about the experience and why you should definitely sign up and do it.
And then, before you know it, you will be at your own NCS graduation, gaining your certificates and catching up with new friends. Trust me, it’s worth it!