Ah, teenagers! Who knew they could be so tricky? One minute they’re as happy as Larry – full of love and affection, singing songs and telling jokes. And the next minute … POOF! They’re as miserable as sin and nothing you say or do for them is right. But they’re our kids, and we love them. So we keep on trying to bring out the best in them.
Stacey seemed to turn into a ‘proper’ teenager when she started Year 9 last year. And I think that’s the year that most of us lose our way a little when we’re at school. I mean, you’re no longer one of the younger children, but the older kids can still seem quite scary. And there’s always that friend who ditches you at the last minute to spend time with her new boyfriend. Add to that the stress of choosing the right subjects to take for your GCSE’s next year, and your head is bound to be all over the place.
One of the other things I’ve noticed since Stacey started Year 9 is that she seems to have become a target for the bullies to pick on. I’m not 100% sure of why this is, but the fact that she doesn’t shovel on makeup like her classmates has been mentioned. As well as her reluctance to go out and get drunk with her peers. I’m glad she has a sensible head on her shoulders though. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if she stumbled through the door one evening smelling of booze and not knowing where she’d been or who she’d been with.
But it does worry me that being cast aside by her friends seems to be having a damaging effect on her mental wellbeing. My daughter, who once couldn’t wait to change out of her school uniform and head straight out with her friends, now stays at home, frightened to leave the house alone in case someone tries to pick a fight with her. It’s just horrible.
Luckily though, unlike her fear of spiders and Harry Potter, this is one fear that she actually wants to conquer. So a few nights ago we sat on the sofa together, fired up Google, and started to search for activities that she might be able to take part in within our local area. It was then that we came across the National Citizens Service (or NCS for short). And even though Stacey is a couple of years too young to take part this year, we both agreed that their fun-packed summer activity programme looked amazing!
So, what exactly is the NCS Activity Programme?
Well, the NCS is an activity programme of 2 to 4 weeks that is aimed at children aged 16 and 17. It runs throughout the summer holidays and encourages individuals from different backgrounds who might not otherwise have met to share a unique experience and provides the opportunity for young people to become better individuals and, in turn, better citizens.
There are outdoor team-building activities in the first week. Then the kids stay in the same group and progress on to other things like life skills and social action in the community. And, finally, there’s an end of programme celebration event (which is like a modern day graduation) so that the kids can enjoy a well-earned reward for doing something truly inspirational in their community.
When Stacey spotted that they do exciting activities on the programme, such as abseiling, zip-wiring, and watersports her little face lit up. She’s always been somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, so a summer activity programme like this is absolutely perfect for her. I really hope it’s still running in a couple of years time when she’ll finally be able to take part. I’m sure it would help to boost her confidence as well as develop her social skills.
Is the NCS Activity Programme Expensive?
Surprisingly not – the entire programme is amazing value at just £50! This includes travel costs, accommodation, activities and food during your child’s stay. How incredible is that? There is also financial assistance available should you need it. I did spot on the website that you can send your child with a little pocket money for them to buy souvenirs or sweets if they want to. But it’s not something that you have to do.
Think your child would be interested but have a family holiday booked?
If you think your child would be interested in the programme, but you’ve already booked a family holiday during the summer, don’t panic! The NCS is fairly flexible and will endeavour to get each child wanting to take part a place on the programme. I would say it’s well worth registering your interest in the hope of getting a spot that doesn’t interfere with your plans.
One of the things that really caught my eye when reading about the NCS Activity Programme was how the teenagers who take part are encouraged to make their mark and do something positive for the community. This is where their NCS experience all comes together, and they work with their team to plan and deliver their very own social action project!
As someone who likes to get stuck in within my local community, I find this absolutely brilliant. It will show young people that they have the power to change the world around them. No matter whether they’re a thinker or a doer, this is their chance to give something back and make a positive difference. At the end of the day, they’ll have an amazing story to tell. As well as having a little extra something that will sparkle on their CV! And, of course, it’s a great way for them to wind down after taking their GCSE’s.
Still interested? Book now!
The NCS activity programme is government-backed. And since it started in 2011, almost 400,000 young people have taken part in it! This year, over 100,000 teenagers will take part in the programme – and that works out at almost one in six 16 year-olds. The NCS believes that every young person should have the opportunity to take part, and support is available for those with additional needs. There are still places available for Year 11’s to take part in his once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To find out more, make sure you head on over to the NCS website. I certainly wish I was young enough to take part!