Overcoming fears & learning from young people: Alexys reflects on her first outdoor activities residential


Alexys, 18, joined Salmon in September 2017 as a Youth Work Apprentice. Here she reflects on her first residential trip and how the young people there helped her to overcome her own fears...

At the beginning of November, Emma, Derrick and I took five young people to the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) in Derbyshire for a weekend filled with fun outdoor activities, including mountain climbing, mountain biking, abseiling and caving.

The trip gave us a chance to get to know the young people better and gave the young people an opportunity to get active and try something new.

Excited and exhausted

After the five-hour drive from London on the Salmon minibus, we finally arrived at the YHA, a mix of excited and exhausted. We had pizza for dinner and got ready for bed as we all had to be up by 7am the next morning to get ready for our exciting day of mountain climbing, abseiling and caving.

I was a bit scared at first because I’m not the fittest of people but I knew the weekend wasn’t about my fitness levels – it was more about uplifting the young people and building new relationships.

We took the YHA minibus (accompanied by three of their trained staff members) to the mountain we would be climbing. When we stepped out of the van I was initially terrified by how high up we were and immediately wanted to get down to flat safe land.

What surprised me was how eager the young people were to try new things and how unfazed they were by the deep puddles of mud and the tall overbearing rocks. Their positive can-do attitude spurred me on to push myself and overcome my fear of falling off the mountain.

Going caving…with encouragement!

Later that day we took part in caving. The minute we had to go down the long steep stairs to the cave, I became very anxious and my mind started to wander, thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

One of the young people reassured me and said it would be fine. That was a very special moment for me because it shows that even though as a youth worker I am expected to uplift, help and guide young people, sometimes they turn around and help me when I am feeling a bit anxious.

We then soldiered on deeper and deeper into the cave. There were so many glossy rocks and gems. Our torch lights shimmered against the glittery stalactites scattered around the cave and I have to say after completing it, the caving experience was my favourite part of the weekend.

One last adventure before home

We finished caving and got ourselves cleaned up and ready for our night time abseiling experience. All the young people seemed to enjoy it but the mountain we were abseiling off was a bit too high for me!

We went back to our accommodation completely knackered by the day’s activities and got some rest for another 7am start on Sunday.

We packed all of our bags and put them into the Salmon minibus because after the last activity of mountain biking we would be heading back to London.

It was truly a great experience and the scenery was beautiful. As the famous author Rachel Carson once put it, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

In conclusion, the weekend was a great success and I hope to be a part of many more residentials in the future!

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