Participation in Action: Camping trip gives youth leaders skills for the future

Laura McCardle
Monday, May 12, 2014

How a camping residential aims to help 2,000 young people get the most out of life.

A five-day festival of activities and inspirational speakers aims to empower young people to reach their potential
A five-day festival of activities and inspirational speakers aims to empower young people to reach their potential

In August, up to 2,000 13- to 17-year-olds will attend a residential programme in Kent aimed at developing their emotional and mental wellbeing by taking part in activities and workshops.

Integral to the success of the event will be a group of 400 coaches aged 18 to 25 who will be responsible for leading the activities the young people will be taking part in and giving them support to address life issues that arise.

The five-day Youth Leaders Festival camping residential is being organised by the Knowledge to Action Foundation.

The inaugural event marks the expansion of the child wellbeing charity's Youth Leadership Summit - a similar but much smaller event that the Knowledge to Action Foundation had held annually since 2011.

"The Youth Leadership Summit was for 150 people at the Kingswood Centre in Kent, but the festival will be for 2,000 people and all outdoors," explains foundation co-ordinator Kelly Frazer.

Each day of the festival will begin with a talk by an "inspirational" speaker, who will offer a "lesson of the day" for participants to think about.

During the rest of the day, graduates of the charity's previous programme will act as youth coaches, helping the young people to develop their skills and confidence.

The coaches will work with a small group of up to five young people, helping them highlight any issues they might have and support them to overcome them. Frazer says it is important that the young graduates take the lead in supporting the young people.

"We, as adults, can tell them as much as we want but really we are no better than a parent or teacher telling them they should be doing this or that but we're putting people who have gone through this in front of them."

The coaches will be supported by around 100 volunteers, who, along with the young people and staff, will enjoy some sort of entertainment at the end of each day of the residential.

The programme will deal with four key topics - relationships, health, wealth and entrepreneurship, and community - helping the young participants to develop their own ideas about each and equipping them with the skills required to deal with them appropriately.

Frazer says the festival will encourage the young people to think independently.

"It's all about empowering them, not us giving them things," says Frazer. "Health is about the empowerment and leadership within that, keeping your body in prime condition to cope with difficult decisions - you can cope with life a lot better if you are healthy."

Participants will also be encouraged to discuss the relationships they have with key people in their lives, says Frazer.

She adds: "Relationships refers to literal relationships in terms of your parents, teachers and boyfriend or girlfriend and is about how to be respectful in those relationships and get the most out of them.

"The whole idea is really just being the best version of yourself and using your best qualities.We try to help them realise that they themselves hold all the cards and can do whatever they want to do."

The charity, which is staffed by just three people, has raised around £100,000 during the past year to support the running of the event, meaning participants will only be asked to pay £60 towards the £400 cost of providing each place.

Frazer hopes participants will leave the festival feeling empowered and able to reach their full potential regardless of their backgrounds.

The festival is the charity's main event of the year, allowing the small team to focus on raising the running costs and developing the programme.But Frazer hopes that both the charity and the festival can grow to benefit more young people.

"The idea is that, over time, this will allow us to get into schools and do more of this, and do it so frequently that the majority of young people are supported," she says. "It's very much in line with what the government is saying at the moment; that life doesn't end at school."

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