Summer Camp Poem

After our summer camp training weekend, we were sent a poem about the weekend from one of the volunteers.

Cullen Marshall is a first time volunteer and will be volunteering at the “Go eXtreme” camp at Coalbrookdale.

Here is his poem

“Two companions, seven hours, one KFC, and lil mix featuring Stormzy

Arriving at Edale, strait to the main room full of people

We came from all over in many vehicles

Robert aroused our excitement with twenty sixteens statistics

As the team explained the weekends logistics

Outdoor activities, friendly delivery

I see so much energy, opportunity, love and impact

Because let’s face it, that’s why we’re here!

 

Meeting greeting, making new friends

An early night in ma bunk bed follows a big breakfast

Yawns with grins, I didn’t have to wash up anything

Training while it’s raining,

All smiles no complaining, exploring our social fog

Some serious stuff too

Still silly sausages sizzle together nicely

As we soak up the juice of experience precisely

So, spritely we came together and formed this year’s volunteers

 

A powerful talk from Sarah, woops and cheers

Clink of the beers, maybe a few tears as we scaled inspiration and grew

Who knew me and you could fit in?

And what’s new is we’ve not even started really

So, here’s to us all, I hope you’ll gain

Feel the love and be loved

Because the world needs hero’s, you are mine, be the children’s

Young people we’ll cyas on camp

 

As for the YHA family, I give thanks

And hopefully

We can transform lives through travel adventure and discovery

From one soul to another

My sisters and brothers”

Thanks Cullen – can’t wait to hear what you think after camp!

Volunteering in Brighton

Back in the Spring of 2016 a group of young volunteers came to YHA Brighton and were tasked with painting a few of the rooms that needed a little bit of a touch up. One broken window and two ruined carpets later the concept of volunteering at Brighton was quietly put to bed. Enter team 2017!

The AMEY group (a gold standard Investors in People award winning company) contacted us to arrange a day volunteering as part of the corporate social responsibility their company employs. Although at first met with a little trepidation, the momentum quickly built as we planned the work they could do, how we could supervise this and what benefits this could have to us and our business, not to mention the 120 hours added to the volunteering time sheet.

On the day the team turned up on time, with branded T-shirts on their backs, ready to work. The outside of the building has been repainted, making a huge impact on the first impression of the building; 5 rooms and various corridors have been decorated bringing a new lease of life to some areas that were starting to look a little tired; The dining room has had a new lick of paint freshening the walls where scuff marks and footprints were beginning to build up; the entire of our, frankly, huge basement has had all rubbish and unusable materials removed meaning we can make much better use of this space and taken a weight off the shoulders of our maintenance team.

The team really enjoyed the work and did an excellent job. It was also mentioned that they would like to come back again next time and also many of the volunteers commented on the standard of the hostel and said the often repeated line, “Youth hostels aren’t like what they were when I was young” which has furthered our mission to engage with new customers and spread the YHA word.

DofE Gold at YHA Sheringham

Back in April, YHA Sheringham hosted a gold DofE residential week. Where a group of young adults came from all over the country and worked together on a project at the hostel.

Whilst they were here they took on the challenge of revamping the customer garden. This included weeding, removal of all over-grown bushes and plants and trimming hedges and bushes back. Their title for this project was ‘Making a Home for Nature’. When they were working they were paired with people they didn’t know so that they could bond and get to know new people.

They were also given a few questions to think about during their time with us. This allowed them to research the questions as a group. At the end of the week we reviewed everyone’s answers and reviewed how the week had gone.

The group was very hard working and determined. They always gave their all into everything they did.

During their time with us I had also asked them to come up with a poster for our fundraiser for Breaks for Kids. I gave them all some information about Breaks for Kids which in turn gave them some further ideas and help on how to design their poster. This was a poster for our manager Adrian Dyde who is running 1000 miles. We had the idea of sponsor a brick and “Break Through The Wall” was our slogan. The idea of it was that for every mile that Adrian ran there would be a brick as his aim was to raise £1000. So if you sponsored a brick you would write your name on it and you would put a £1 in the charity box.

As you can see from the before and after pictures below, the garden looks absolutely stunning.

First DofE Gold for Manorbier

YHA Manorbier ran their first D of E Gold volunteer break recently and it was extremely successful. Three young ladies attended and during the five days they managed to treat all our garden furniture with wood preservative, tidied up the paths around the hostel and helped with bed making during our busy Easter period. This was a big help to the hostel and the volunteers seemed to enjoy the experience.

Ollie and Snowy gave up their time to take them snorkelling one afternoon (and kindly lent them wet-suits and equipment) where they saw quite a few jellyfish and starfish and luckily had great underwater visibility. Their last evening was rounded off with a beach bonfire where Martin unwisely boasted about his one match fire lighting skills. It seems these skills are a little rusty, although he tried blaming damp wood. When the fire was finally lit with help from the young people, we did manage to have toasted marshmallows

AGM 2017

We recently held our AGM on the 8th July 2017 in London and the day went really well and was a great success.

We had some amazing volunteers helping us on the day and we’ve received some brilliant feedback from them.

Barbara Everest has been volunteering with us for over 25 years and had nothing but praise for her day on Saturday.

The venue at the Royal College of General Practitioners was stunning. Wonderful auditorium and conference rooms.

The atmosphere was positive and vibrant. Lots of information about the current and future plans for the YHA including the building of an 800 bedded hostel in Stratford, London.

The event went smoothly with lots of positive feedback from the delegates.

Many delegates got to meet the new CEO for the first time.

The venue was in a central location next to Euston station.

The whole day was organised very efficiently thanks to Louise and the admin team from Matlock.

The YHA volunteers really enjoyed helping out and working together with the admin staff from Matlock. Many said they would return next year to volunteer.”

    

We have also had wonderful feedback from Atalanta Tolputt who starts an Events Management degree at university in September, she felt like this opportunity really helped to get her “foot in the door” for what’s to come on her degree.

“I really appreciate YHA for letting me help out on Saturday at the AGM meeting. It was a truly brilliant experience and I truthfully, really enjoyed it and enjoyed being a part of it. 

I was allocated to the making memories workshop and I really enjoyed hearing stories of the delegates’ times with YHA and best memories. Its amazing how many memories the delegates have. I spent the morning standing by the stairs and greeting people. Helping them find their way around ie: where to sign in, the cloakroom, toilets and pointing them in the direction of the trustee videos. 

There was nothing I didn’t enjoy. The food was great, the venue was beautiful and the staff helped me feel comfortable. It was the first time I had ever done anything of this nature and I would love to do it again. 

I couldn’t suggest anything to do different. I thought it was all brilliant and extremely organised and it was a pleasure to help. I found the financial part of the meeting very interesting as I studied business for A-level. The growth of the organisation is unbelievable. The guest speaker was amazing. Her story was so moving and eye opening. It just shows that you can do anything you put your mind too. So inspired after the whole event to get out there and explore some more.”

It’s great to hear that our volunteers really feel like they gained valuable experience and insight into the company through their day of volunteering!

YHA Summer Camps Volunteers

A day in the life of a YHA Summer Camp Team Leader

As summer camp season is almost upon us, we caught up with Tess, who was a Team Leader at YHA St Briavel’s Castle Action Adventure camp in 2016! So if you’ve ever wondered what a typical day at camp is like for a team leader, what the benefits of Volunteering at a YHA Summer Camp are, and what her experience was like, then keep on reading!

A typical day…

6:55am: The alarm goes off, its Ugly Heart by G.R.L so I’m up, dressed and dancing out the door before we reach the chorus. Down the corridor to wake the campers and then back to my room to sort my kit for the day.

7:25am: I’m racing round the castle, chasing out the final campers for breakfast, we wouldn’t want anyone to go hungry!

7:30am: Breakfast. I’m sat outside on the picnic benches chatting to the campers about what they’re going to do today. Our table is called up to get breakfast – cereal and croissants followed by cooked breakfast and toast – three weeks in the novelty has still not worn off.

8:45am: Medical forms and spare biscuits tucked safely in my bag, I’m out on the grass again playing a game with those campers who are out a little earlier. By nine they’re all out and we split into our activity groups to collect our lunches and then meet our instructors for the day.

10:00am: We’re all on the minibus heading off to our activity. After several reminders we do now all have a towel and a FULL water bottle. The instructors have briefed us on the activity we are doing today and I’m now trying to answer the many questions the group have about it.

11:00am: We’re out on activity now. The instructors are covering the safety side and facilitating the activity whilst I’m working on encouragement, group management and generally assisting where I can. If the activity is one I know well I might help with kitting up the group or showing them how they could do something but if I’m as new to it as they are I’ll let the instructors do all of that and I’ll stick to boosting morale, playing games whilst equipment is being set up and handing out the spare biscuits!

12:30pm: We’ve stopped for lunch, the instructors are sorting some kit for the afternoon/having a well earned rest. I’m keeping an eye on the group, directing to the toilets (or nearest bush!) and checking everyone has had enough to eat – vital for the campers to enjoy their afternoon without getting tired or grumpy.

2:00pm: We’re still on activity, it’s much the same as the morning. We might have changed to a different activity or it might be a full day trip. Which ever way, I’m able to get stuck in with it all. “I’ll do it if you do it” encourages both the camper and myself to push our boundaries.

4:30pm: We’ve just arrived back at the castle, Team Leaders take it in turns to shower so someone always has an eye on the campers. Tuck shop opens at 5, but the castle staff run it, we just keep an “orderly” queue.

5:55pm: I’m back racing round the castle chasing out stragglers for dinner. There’s always something good on the menu, roast dinner with sticky toffee pudding for afters is my personal favourite.

7:30pm: Evening activity starts. the Camp Manager will be in charge of this one and the options include human cluedo, talent show or her favourite, mini Olympics.

9:00pm: Depending on the length of our evening activity and how tired our campers are, we might stick a film on at this point. I’ll only see part of it though as I need to keep an eye on those kids not watching it as well.

10:00pm: Time for the little ones to go to bed. My room don’t fancy sleeping yet so I fetch a book and sit and read to them till one by one they all drop off. Time to tiptoe out…

10:45pm: The older ones still won’t be quiet, so I’m off up the tower to take the guys in charge of their room some hot chocolate. They have to stay sat on the stone steps til’ it’s all quiet.

11:00pm: Team meeting. Time for a review of the day. It’s normally very positive. We share any memorable parts of our day as well as giving the others a heads up on which campers have been misbehaving and which might need a bit more help. The following day’s evening activity is gone through to see if there is anything we need to sort out for then.

12:30am: As soon as the meeting finishes we’re free to go. Some bolt for the door, ready for their beds. I’m normally one of the last to leave, creeping through the castle to avoid waking anyone. There’s just time for a quick shower before bed.

What benefits did you find through YHA Summer Camp volunteering?

If you read the YHA info for campers it will give you a list of all the great benefits of attending a summer camp. If you times this list by 10 you will get the benefits of being a team leader.

You will try things you never dreamed of doing and you will love them.

You will learn what you are capable of, and it will surprise you.

You will meet incredible people who support you, motivate the campers and always give their all, and you will become one of them.

Volunteering at a YHA Summer Camp showed me that I was on the wrong career path. I belong in the outdoors and working there with kids is what I love best. For me summer camp was the time I realised that I needed to take my life in both hands and just go for it, follow my dreams. I would not have managed this without the incredible support of the St Briavel’s Volunteer Team and the instructors we were working with.

Camp also showed me what some children are missing out on. Many of the experiences I take for granted were a huge deal for some of the campers. It broadened my horizons more than I would have thought possible. I will no longer assume that just because I’ve been doing something since I was six, that a 16 year old has done it. We also all have different things that scare us and as a leader it is important to remember this!

If all that doesn’t convince you, you also get a reference from your camp manager at the end of it all plus a shed load of experience in working with children, additional needs and as part of very busy team. The experience I gained from my time at camp was a major factor in getting me my current apprenticeship.

What did you enjoy/not enjoy the most about volunteering?

Is ‘everything’ too general?!

I enjoyed working as part of a team of like minded people. We were all there to make a difference. We all wanted everyone, campers and volunteers to have a great week. I enjoyed watching my group develop through the week. The quiet ones learnt to talk in the group, the loud ones learnt to listen. They learned to look after each other.

I enjoyed getting stuck in on the activities, not just the big stuff but also the evenings. Helping build the bug hotels and the rafts, trying my hand at mountain biking, getting “wetsecuted” during cluedo!

I didn’t enjoy watching the group leave at the end of the week (although the down time was appreciated). I didn’t enjoy watching any of the campers (or volunteers) struggling. This was most common on the climbing day. Thankfully, most of the time I was able to give them a helping hand or some carefully chosen words of motivation to allow them to complete the task at hand to their own satisfaction.

What did you find the most memorable?

A little boy from South London who I was sharing a boat with. He lay back in the boat as we glided down the river. He looked at the blue sky above him, the clear water below him and the green valley sides around him. and he said “That view ain’t real Bro, it’s too good.” He couldn’t believe that views like that could be found in the real world, with no photo-shopping.

Reading a room full of 10 year olds a bed time story – Wind in the Willows. They’d all had hot buttered toast and were curled up in bed. One by one they all fell asleep. As the last one dropped off I shut the book and crept out the room. And they were adamant that they weren’t tired!

We had a banner that every camper signed before they left, reading what they wrote was a great end to the week. There would be a collection of in-jokes, comments about which activities were best (mountain biking was a common winner) and without fail a whole host of thank you’s. Reading those and seeing how much I had helped them to have an incredible week always gave me a good feeling.

P.S.A Final Memorable moment. Not from when I was volunteering but from the year before when I was a camper. An 18 year old looking up at the stars. He was from South London and had never seen the stars before. I will never forget the look of wonder on his face and I will never look at the stars the same way again.

We are currently taking applications for our positions at Summer Camps this year! If Tess’ story and experiences have inspired you, then why not apply?

Find out more about Summer Camp volunteering and apply now.

Summer camp volunteering in Germany

It’s just before 6am on a Sunday morning and after 20+ hours on a coach, I have arrived in Hamburg and have been greeted by Bernhard, who is the manager of the Molln Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel), and after a 45 minute car journey I arrive at the hostel that will be my home for the next two weeks.

After staying up to have breakfast and to meet the rest of the team, I get my head down for a kip as the kids will arrive that afternoon. The team, that consists of 4 Germans from an education company called TeamExperte and 2 Brits (Including myself) from YHA, have already got a lot of the prep done, as some have been at the hostel a couple days.

That afternoon, the children started to arrive and by 1800 we had 50 boys and girls of ages ranging from 9 to 14 tucking into dinner. Most of the kids were happy to be at camp but we did have a few who either just simply didn’t want to be there and had been sent away by their parents or weren’t happy that they had to hand their Handy’s (Mobile Phone) over, along with their pocket money, and would only have access on Hamburg Day. That first evening was spent going through introductions, the house rules, the daily chores (Yes, chores) and Language Hour. Then after an hour of free time, it was 2200 and time for the kids to go to bed, followed by myself after a quick team meeting.

Monday and the first full day with the ids. I am the ‘Teamer’ for two rooms of boys and during the night each room was given the task of coming up with a room name for themselves, the one room come up with the name The Pokemon Bros, whilst my other room settle on Bad Neighbours (After the film).

Today it’s the Pokemon Bros job to set up the tables before each meal, so at 7.50am I make sure the boys are up and downstairs setting up.

Monday and the first full day with the ids. I am the ‘Teamer’ for two rooms of boys and during the night each room was given the task of coming up with a room name for themselves, the one room come up with the name The Pokemon Bros, whilst my other room settle on Bad Neighbours (After the film).

Today it’s the Pokemon Bros job to set up the tables before each meal, so at 0750am I make sure the boys are up and downstairs setting up.
Most of the days start by following the same schedule.
● 7am – Morning Sport (For those wishing to take part)
● 8am – Breakfast (followed by chores)
● 9am – Language Hour
● 10am – Camp Olympics
● 11am – Tuck Shop
● 12pm – Lunch
Language hour was probably the biggest challenge during the first week, as I would have the same group of kids each day (A mix of boys and girls), and I would have to come up with new things each day, where as it would have been easier and more polished if I had a different group each morning. I had to come up with games that had were language based, although I was given a list of suggestions. So during the week we would play Chinese Whispers, My Mother Went To Market, Hangman to name a few. I also downloaded this Ellen Degeneres game onto my phone, which would come up which would or name and the others would have to give you clues.

Camp Olympics was a chance for the boys and girls to compete in teams against each other, playing various games. Whilst this was going on, I has in the hostel completing one of my daily jobs, which was Room Olympics, where I would check all the rooms and given marks on how clean and tidy they were. Naturally the girls did better than the boys, although one of my rooms was only just behind them.

Then 11 am and for most of the kids it was their favourite time of the day, tuck shop. The kids could buy sweets, pop or even a souvenir from the money they had handed over when they first arrived, whilst we kept a ledger of what they had spent.

hamburg

The afternoon schedule did vary each day. We built cabins/forts in the nearby woods, there was also archery, climbing, swimming, plus other games. Likewise after dinner the evening schedule also varied each day with activities like a camp fire, BBQ etc.

Probably the most daunting day of both weeks was Hamburg Day, as we took the kids to Hamburg, which was just over an hour away by train, and hoping we didn’t lose any kids along the way. Whilst there, we took the kids for a boat ride, then after lunch in the Hamburg Youth Hostel, the kids were set free and could spend a few hours unsupervised in Hamburg. We had given them access to their money and gave them their mobile phones.

The final evening of the first camp was casino night and I was the Blackjack Dealer, so to look the part I donned my black YHA shirt and made a badge that said ‘Camp Casino’ and had a fun hour playing the kids for matches, which they could later on exchange for sweets. After the casino had finished, we all gathered in the common room for a photoshow of the past week. It was a great collection of photos that myself and the rest of the team had taken during the camp, there was much hilarity in the room as one by one the photos, some more embarrassing than others, popped up on the projector.

Saturday morning and the kids were all packed as the first camp was just about done, but not before we had the Honey Shower. A Honey Shower is an opportunity for the kids and the Teamers alike to give messages to the people you have met during the camp. How it worked is you would write down your message and place it in the envelope of the person the message is for and at the end you would have a envelope full of messages.

Whilst the honey shower was going on, the parents started to arrive one by one and by lunchtime all the kids were gone, as were the 4 German Teamers who were only here for the first camp, to be replace with two more later that day. I took the opportunity to have a look around Molln, which proved very helpful as I had to prepare a scavenger hunt for the 2 group of kids.

The second week ran similarly to the first, with only some schedule changes due to the weather and only half the kids. Plus instead of having a casino on the final night we had Singstar Karaoke, where both myself and Daniel (YHA Volunteer) at the request of the kids belted out Spice Girls Wannabe.

Overall, I had a fantastic two weeks in Germany and met some great people and some brilliant kids. I had gone into this experience not knowing what to expect but have left with experiences and a better understanding that I hope to use in the future at something like Camp America, which has previously been something I’d been interested in doing. I would certainly love and accept the opportunity to do this again and would recommend it to anybody else.

A Norwegian Volunteering Adventure

Before embarking on my exchange with HI Norway I took some time with a couple of friends to venture into Jotunheimen National Park, attempting to experience more than just the country’s urban lifestyle. We spent a week driving beside the fjords, winding over mountain passes, camping among the most spectacular scenery and scaled along Norway’s infamous Besseggen Ridge; finally finishing in Bergen for their annual food and beer festival.

As I arrived at my first hostel in Oslo I was greeted with the warmest welcome – not only was I shown around the hostel and introduced to the whole team, I was lucky enough to have a guided tour of the city too! Instantly it was evident that opting for Norway as my exchange destination was the perfect choice and the next two weeks were going to be two of the best.
Throughout the first week at Oslo Haraldsheim Hostel my time was spent working alongside the Reception Team, attending business meetings with their National and Regional Office, interacting with guests and shadowing the other volunteers.

Interestingly I also helped to host a group of Managers from Hosteling International Poland, who were also on an educational visit to learn and share experiences with HI Norway. Myself and the other volunteers accompanied them on the guest hike to the popular local peak (pictured below), on museum tours and observed presentations from both parties about their organisation goals and values.

My time in Oslo flew by, meaning it was now time to board the train for the second half of my exchange at Bergen Montana Hostel. Six hours of dramatic scenery whilst snaking through the mountains of multiple national parks was absolutely breath-taking!
The morning after my arrival I met the Manager of the hostel who explained to me the concept of ‘Social Volunteering’ and suggested that I spend the majority of my time shadowing their team of volunteers. This involved taking guests on historical tours of Bergen, hikes to a number of peaks surrounding the city, general tourist information and organising evening activities. As well as this, I spent some time working with the reception team and analysing guest reviews whilst inputting the information into their survey system.
Being able to share the knowledge that I have built up over the past 2 years working for the YHA felt great, as did taking on the suggestions they had to offer. Looking back on my time in Norway I feel lucky to have explored as much as I did and feel privileged to have worked alongside so many inspirational people. I would like to take this opportunity to heavily thank those who made the exchange possible and also those who made it an experience I will never forget – I will be forever grateful!

Chelsey Robinson

Coffee and chat with a YHA Volunteer

Kate Lansley, YHAs Youth Engagement Coordinator, had coffee and a chat with Laurence Perks, YHA volunteer and all-round superstar, to find out more about his experiences with the organisation.

KL: So Laurence, you’ve given YHA over 250 hours of your time since summer 2015. What made you want to get involved with YHA in the first place?

LP: Initially, I was very impressed by the YHA’s potential to offer a summer camp experience without the high costs associated with the experience of spending a summer working abroad that seems to be so commonplace amongst the young people of my generation.

13342925_974399139346790_3426519318779588939_nKL: What different volunteering roles have you done with YHA?

LP: I’ve volunteered for the YHA in a variety of roles since the summer of 2015 including YHA Summer Camps Volunteer Team Leader at YHA Edale in the Peak District and as a YHA Young Champion where responsibilities involved speaking as part of a focus group at the AGM earlier this year.

KL: Do you have a favourite role?

LP: I love being a Team Leader on Summer Camp! Outdoor learning is something that I have a real passion for, so to be able to play a role in encouraging young people to push their boundaries and comfort zones and learn some practical life skills outside of a standardised classroom environment is something that I love to do!

KL: What about a favourite YHA moment?

LP: I’ve made so many great memories with the YHA so far; many of which are centred on helping young people to overcome their fears or own personal challenges and discover new things while at summer camp whether or not that be a fear of heights, a taste for new foods or observing new friendships flourish by the end of the week they spend together.  But, from a personal point of view, my favourite YHA moment happened quite recently when I was lucky enough to hear Alex Staniforth, adversity adventurer, public speaker and YHA Ambassador, share his story and speak about how our biggest obstacles will always be ourselves; truly inspiring stuff that I took a lot from!

KL: Has volunteering with YHA given you anything, or done anything for you?

LP: It’s given me more than I ever thought possible – honest! Some of the greatest friendships I’ve got were born out my volunteering with the YHA.  The care and attention that the Volunteering Team provide to every volunteer from the start of, during the course of and for long after a voluntary placement has finished is outstanding and I cannot speak highly enough of their efforts.  They have always been on hand after my volunteering to provide helpful hints, tips and advice on how to make those experiences stand out on a CV and since starting my volunteering story, I’ve seen a definite increase in the number of job adverts where I’m getting though the first selection phase and invited to interview and when I’m asked at those interviews to provide evidence of my leadership, team work or communication skills – I always pick a YHA example!

KL: What would you say to someone who is thinking of getting involved with YHA, but they’re not sure yet?

LP: Just give it a go; you don’t know where it could lead! Even if you’re not sure what you’d like to try, get in touch with the Volunteering Team and get them to talk you through what they have available – there’s something for everyone’s interests and time commitments.

KL: So… coming back to camps next year?

LP: Of course! I’m actually returning to YHA Edale Summer Camp this year as a Senior Volunteer Team Leader and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the extra responsibilities of assisting the Camp Manager in the planning and organisation of evening activities for the campers and supporting the Volunteer Team Leaders to ensure we deliver a high quality and enjoyable experience for 100 campers every week.

A big thanks to Laurence for talking to us about his YHA adventures! We’re sure we will see you soon!

If you’d like to start your YHA volunteering adventure, please get in touch with the team. You can call us on 01629 592 562 or email [email protected].

A Room with a Barcelona View

The YHA Exchange Programme allows YHA staff and volunteers to travel the world, meet new people and gain fantastic new experiences and memories. As part of the programme, YHA staff and volunteers have travelled from England to Spain to volunteer with Ribals, a Spanish kid’s activity company! Our intrepid traveller James has previously written for the YHA and The Guardian about working abroad, and this adventure in Spain is his next installment!

Capture

Room with a Barcelona View

4th July

It’s been our first week here In Barcelona, and already I’ve felt the pulse and vibrancy of the city with its independent flair. A Roman Gothic cathedral is our neighbour from the high-rise apartment we’re based out of, and the historical culture is breathtakingly right on our doorstep.

Venturing through the Gothic quarter backstreets feels like a golden opportunity to get under the skin of the culture we’re working in as summer camp volunteers soon. Marc, our organiser from activity company Ribals, has laid out for us our adventurous plan to soon travel to near the Pyrenees mountains and give an authentic English experience to the kids during their time on camp. It’s an amazing opportunity that the YHA has been partnering with here, offering everything from a chance to improve language skills, to gaining employable skills such as communicating across teams and culture barriers.

Capturing the experience on camera, I’m collaborating with the YHA team to be releasing after-films and a photo journal of our time here, so make sure to stay tuned for the best to come!

Check back in soon for updates from James…

Zali and Kayleigh Take On Ribals!

The YHA Exchange Programme allows YHA staff and volunteers to travel the world, meet new people and gain fantastic new experiences and memories. As part of the programme, 2 YHA staff members have travelled from England to Spain to volunteer with Ribals, a Spanish kid’s activity company! Our intrepid travellers, Zali and Kayleigh, have been writing about their adventures…

21st June

Day 1 our official first day in Barcelona, and wow what a welcome from the Ribals team.

Barce 1

Barcelona and what a view on the balcony!

Marc, Anna and Chris made us feel so welcome, and explained what the plans are for the upcoming weeks.

We have been planning activities for the groups next week, and all sounds great. Can’t wait to get to Cardona now, see the castle and explore the fantastic site for our historical camp.

We then got to go on a car journey for roughly 85km to go see tamarit castle, a wedding location for the rich and famous, but also the beaches are used for one of Ribals summer camps, they where doing water sports when we arrived, and the kids looked like they really enjoyed it. I have included a picture of the castle, it’s fantastic, well worth buying a hat if you’re invited to ever attend a wedding there.

Playdo

A busy morning creating knights and dragons ready for the historical camp!

Will keep you updated on progress as our time goes on blog readers.

26th June

Sorry for delay in the blog, it’s been a crazy few days with limited service, but back to full blogging capacity now, and loving Barcelona. We are now in Cardona, and what a sight it is! Castle to the front, Pyrennes to the left – perfect!!!

So today and yesterday we got the camp ready for the imminent arrival on Monday of our excitable young historical campers.

We got to help the animation team out and I have to say we had a really great time, we all did fancy dress and took a late night walk with the keen little guests (and parents) and I have to say, dressing up as a wizard is perhaps something I should of done sooner.

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Dressing up as a wizard is perhaps something I should of done sooner!

We had great fun, even though we couldn’t fully communicate with the children due to language differences, they all had a amazing time and we assisted the team to give a entertaining walk.

We have also been painting medieval based characters for the walls and doors in our section of the complex, pictures to come on that one.

For now I will leave you with a great picture of all of us dressed up. Nobel knights and all.

28th June

Hello blog readers.

Farm 1

On the farm!

So today was our first full day with the kids and to kick off we obviously did some jousting, and knight worthy activities. When I say jousting, we got the kids to go against each other on scooters with foam swords, but it made us all smile!

Then we had fun on the farm, getting the children used to things they wouldn’t normally come in contact with living in the city. We saw donkeys, ducks, lambs, chickens, peacocks, and some of the cutest baby rabbits I have ever seen! Unfortunately I think customs would be a bit awkward if I tried to take them all home…

ViewHowever I really loved how the activities are planned around these kinds of things. The children made up the bread and water mix to feed to the animals, and even with a few faces being pulled, they got their hands in and gave it ago. Then we did an activity of giving the children a code to break using the pictures of the animals, which kept them occupied, so I could change back into my magicians outfit for the night time relax activity!

All in all a great day, tomorrow brings horse riding and a outdoor centre… fun times ahead!View

Hope you all enjoy a few pictures and reading the blog.

29th June

So today was a great day for activities with the history camp. First of all we got to visit a equestrian school, where the children got to see all aspects of what was involved, from the joy of mucking out, to the eventual riding of a horse. It was really good to see how there confidence grew in such a small amount of time, and they loved the ride they had. It was great to see how inquisitive the kids are when they are in new surroundings.

From there we moved onto a lake based activity centre, which had everything from rock climbing and abseiling, to rafting group activities and canoes. The kids loved it, and it was great watching them have so much fun, gaining confidence and growing with each activity.

In the evening as they were so tired we had a film night, the film was great (Minion movie!). We even got popcorn so the kids were all really pleased, and will definitely sleep well.

A long day, but worth every minute. The kids are loving it, and so am I!

Bubble football

More updates tomorrow blog followers!!

1st July

So today was mixed emotions, it was sad to see the children leaving but they had so much fun in the last morning with us.

We did lots of different activities from parachute play, to juggling and bubbles, was really good fun and enjoyed by all, and then we got the bubble football out and they loved it all, adults and kids!!

Parachute Play

It’s been a fab evening too, the new recruits to the camp came at dinner time and we gave them a warm welcome, then played some location based activity games to help them get used to their surroundings. It was so much fun and dressing up as a wizard in the evening now feels like part of day to day life.

I have however had a bit of a mishap and been bitten on the leg (unidentified vampire maybe) and unfortunately had a reaction in my muscle, so I won’t be doing the walk geo-mapping tomorrow, but I’m sure I will get a chance at some point.

Keep reading blog fans. :)

3rd July

Sunday the 3rd….what a day.

Imagine yourself, dear blog readers, you’re enjoying your last precious moments of sleep before you know the alarm is going to go off. You feel something on your head and immediately put it down to a room mate (there’s 4 of us in our room), and flick your hair thinking you will catch their hand….. imagine dear blog readers the shock of feeling a small furry bundle on your head and as I panic and flick it off it lands on my neighbour (Zali) and runs across her face ….. yes readers, George the field mouse decided to make a entrance!  20160703_180453

To make matters worse we then lost George… so while my fellow monitors go and do activities, I was on a mission… however I soon gave up and thought I would have a shower, on reaching into my bag I find George asleep in my t-shirt! Snug as a bug, or a mouse in this case!! I then tried to catch him and ended up taking the whole bag outside to remove items one by one as to not hurt him. He then happily ran off to freedom and to a new adventure (or a new room).

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Curious George

Quite the adventure. For all those who would like to see George here’s a quick photo before he left the building.

Also included is the beautiful scenery of Car-dona castle, took as the sun was blazing down. The kids did a few activities today such as rock climbing, and a code breaking game, they are so bright at picking things up fast. They are teaching us more Catalan/Spanish daily.

Enjoying the whole experience so far. Highly recommended for all who want to get a different perspective of kids camps over in Spain.

5th July 

Singstar

X Factor – Cardona Edition!

Started well, no George the mouse, kind of missed the little fella! We can only hope hes happy in his new abode.

Our first child free day (thank you Anna). We went on a walk (hike if you have tiny legs like myself) to Cardona town, to do a little touristy browse, and loved the old cobbled streets and views of the castle. Definitely worth a visit for any history fans, the views are spectacular, and the fields of bales made me feel at home.

We then had a lovely swim, and to top it off a cold Coke in the bar, and then a shower ready to meet the kids for the evening activities.

The kids went karting and swimming (not at the same time) for about 45 minutes away from the Vilar de Rural, and then in the evening we decided not to strain them and do more activities but to instead watch a movie (the new 2015 Peter pan) and played some Sing Star. We tried to get the kids to do group work and mix the ages, it’s sad when the older ones tend to stick together as the younger ones get a little left out. We try to mix where possible.

Anyway happy reading blog checkers, can’t believe our time here is nearly up. Which means back to Barcelona for a few days then home.

Kayleigh 10

A Knight’s Tale

6th July

Wednesdays dear blog readers!

Well it’s been a fun filled action packed day today, we have had scootering, jousting (foam of course) and biking in camp today, the kids are absolutely shattered and so are us monitors and the teachers too.

Kayleigh 11

Just a little bit of jousting!

Sun and activities is fun to a certain point, but kids do tend to get naggy and miserable as the day goes on, so we have been trying to save running games and crafting until evening as it’s cool for one thing and the kids want to participate more.

They absolutely love competing against each other, and the thrill of chasing games is always good no matter the age.

We are hopefully going to be planning a talent contest for tomorrow, I can’t wait, I really love this kind of thing, helps the kids get creative too, coming up with something in small groups and planning a routine etc.

Anyway short and sweet tonight all, as I’m fairly tired.

Happy hump day!!

7th July

So our last full day has come in Cardona dear blog readers.

And I have to say it’s been a blast, yes we are tired, but looking at these kids faces brightens your day.

Today we did some more jousting and a really good activity, which I personally feel is a bit like the gladiators duel match (do any of you remember this?)… I felt my self wanting to shout ‘gladiator ready, 3,2,1….goooo!!’ I held it in as much as I could but I think I might of said it once or twice and got some confused looks from the children.

In the afternoon they planned their talent shows, and made slime in a science class, it was really interesting to see who listened to the instructions well enough to make the slime. Which they all did mostly, and it came out very well.

All in all the children seemed to have a great day, and we finished it with a last night at camp disco, which was really fun. And they also shared what they liked about the camp, one little girl said she made friends, and I think that’s the main thing of these camps, they help to form bonds, which I think we as a team have done well at.

Tomorrow we move back to the city for 2 nights before home. Keep checking for updates.

Kay

Check back in soon for more updates from our intrepid travellers!

YHA Ravenstor goes for Gold (Residential!)

3At the end of May / beginning of June (30/05/16 – 03/06/16 for fact fans!), a group of nine Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award volunteers descended on YHA Ravenstor for a busy and fun week of volunteering. From a wide variety of schools, sixth forms, colleges, etc across the country (some from as far away as Aberdeen!), not many of them knew each other at first, but all were firm friends by the end.2

During their time with us, the volunteers accomplished a wide variety of projects around our grounds, including but not limited to: clearing and laying two new paths through our woodland areas; sweeping and clearing many of the steps and ramps through the grounds; making two big planters out of assorted wood (the remains of old bunk beds!); clearing a sizeable herb patch in a sunny spot off our back driveway.

4And they were no slouches inside, either – all of them got a chance to experience a ‘typical’ YHA housekeeping shift, and also help out in the kitchen, one day each. On top of this, they: repainted our games room; took part in a few deeper housekeeping tasks; cleared, cleaned and de-cobwebbed a mysterious toilet I had discovered near the entrance to the building one day!

As our volunteers had been so helpful during their time with us, we treated them to a cheeky session of abseiling with some of the YHA Edale staff on the Wednesday afternoon of their stay. We were all really pleased with the time they gave us – it has helped to give YHA Ravenstor a new lease of life in some crucial areas, and hopefully our customers will get a nicer experience overall thanks to their efforts.

Many thanks again to all nine volunteers for their fabulous commitment and contributions to YHA Ravenstor!