Team up for Adventure

After the success of last year’s Team Up for Adventure (TUFA), enthusiasm was high to repeat the leadership and team building action and crown new King and Queen of the Forest 2018. The event was led by the KATO and ESN in collaboration with Talent Match and the support and survival skills provided by Catten College. The event, which took place over a 3-day, 2 nights camping trip was based in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk. The concept of the trip was to enable young people to think independently, encourage team spirit, objective thinking and taking young people out of their home environments, without some of their creature comforts to prove life does exist without iPhones, Netflix and Xbox!
We had the pleasure of having David Mills, an ambassador and King of The Forest from last year’s trip to boost encouragement and morale among new recruits as well as guide them from going adrift! Teamwork is the centre of everything, and the ethos behind years of similar styled programmes Clive, Gareth and the Team at Catten College take great pride in – hence the name: Team Up for Adventure.
The programme is designed specifically to encourage young people to work together as a team, strengthening their soft skills set. Social inclusion in some remote parts of Essex for young people can be very disenchanting and a major knock to their confidence. By empowering and facilitating a programme such as TUFA it supports YP to build their confidence, empower team players, independent thinking, rational decision making, following instructions and problem-solving as a group using all modes of communication. Skills such as planning, providing for themselves and others, supporting each other and socialising were all exercised and developed.

“Thank you to everyone for including me on the trip, I loved it.”

“Longer trip, more of these kind of trips because it’s helped me make new friends and increased my confidence.”

“Loved the entire trip really, I came last year so knew what I was up for. It was even better than last year.”

“Liked the dinner times and night chats the best, made good friend.”

“Pick up and drop off, being chauffeured was great, it was organised , everyone was friendly, I really enjoyed Ana’s hot chocolate cocktails at night.”

Some of the comments from the Young People

Travel and trip preparation were a fundamental part of the expedition and independent route planning inward and outward was heavily encouraged and supported by all members from the Talent Match Team and Catten College. A VIP service provided by Clive by means of a mini-bus was used to transport YP and staff members to and back from the forest campsite. The campsite, ‘home’ for the next 3 days was a 2.8-hectare field set in the heart of Rendlesham Forest. The forest is a tranquil spot for enjoying wildlife, nature and stargazing. During our stay we witnessed wildlife equivalent to a David Attenborough styled documentary with deer, squirrels, rabbits, badgers and barn owls in their droves (amongst many other creepy crawlies!) YP were allocated into teams and given their first tasks: to choose a tent and pitch it. This sounds a lot easier than done and there were plenty of dramatic moments that had many of us on our tethers. To make life that little bit easier, there were of course, no instructions. Only a few hours into the trip and YP were putting various skills to the test: communication, leadership, plenty of decision making and problem solving.
Food was a big subject during our time on the campsite – many YP had a fleeting romance with culinary delights which magically turned up on a plate at home, but this trip required all sorts of skills to be tested from the YP in order to basically survive! Peeling spuds, the consistency of mince in bolognaise and the reasonable amount of pepper in a meal was primarily the table chatter by the YP during breakfast, lunch and dinner! Team 1 used their rapidly developing teamworking skills to prepare and cook the evening meal for the entire group, Team 2 contributed by doing the washing-up and the roles would be reversed the next day. To burn the calories after meal time there were plenty of on-site activities within the campsite such as the obstacle course, zip wire and strategy games which were all tackled with great enthusiasm. Rendlesham forest was the scene of one of the UK’s most well-documented “flying saucer” incidents back in 1980.  The Forestry Commission have established a trail through the forest visiting some of the sites involved in the case. Did we find the UFO? Let’s just say all the young people made it back to their tents that night. After a hearty breakfast, a tutorial with a map and compass was on the agenda, followed by emancipating young people and staff members into the forest for an orienteering exercise.
Forestry work ongoing in some areas caused some issues and lost souls when expected pathways were found to be temporarily closed. A long walk in the hot weather ensured everyone was ready (and deserving!) of their lunch upon their return to the camp! A concluding activity during the final night of the trip was a minefield game. Teams of two had to negotiate a path across the minefield – using teamwork, communication, observation and memory skills. The weather well and truly on our side was used to play tennis, rounders, rugby and a tutorial on the perfect pedicure, demonstrated by Miss Rodriguez.
And the final morning arrived! After breakfast the YP had to strike camp. Would the task of packing away the tents be any easier than pitching them? A few elements many of us will take away from this trip like the team spirit, laughter, being lost and then the joy of being found, the ability to understand and respect one another is something you don’t get from a tropical beach holiday so when it came to originality the TUFA Class Of 2018 nailed it! Everyone agreed they had had a great time; is it safe to ask when is the next one?

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