Hello and welcome to another blog post, all about the good, the bad and the ugly of NCS. This might be very controversial but all things said are my personal opinion and I don't mean any offense by any of it.
So, let's begin with the good.
- The activities on the first week
The activities on the first week were just incredible, they were all different, all fun, and all safe. I absolutely loved them and would love to re-do them all. They could have been a little more challenging for my taste, however I understand that many people found the challenge factor to be just perfect.
- The talks and events on the second week
These were brilliant! WE had several talks on the second week including: A police officer's talk, a first-aider, someone from a mental health charity, and even a special guest paralympic swimmer: Stephanie Mills!
Mostly all of them had something great to offer and I learned a lot during those talks.
- The accommodation for the second week
This soared above the accommodation for the first week, as you can imagine, considering we were in teepees. It was an old boarding school on huge grounds with stables and playing fields. It was great.
- The food for the second week
Despite some people not enjoying the food (some picky people), it definitely exceeded my expectations after the first week's food. We had good portions of well made, yummy food everyday.
- The free time
We had a good amount of free time on both week 1 and 2 in order to let us wind down or sort ourselves out, ready for the next activity. The activity/free time balance was just right in my opinion.
- The party on the second week
To finish off the second week we had a party with a DJ which was so much fun! It was on our last night so we were comfortable with our new friends by then and all danced the night away!
Now, the bad:
- The harbour challenge staff
During our stay at the first week's base, our activities were organised by a company called "harbour challenge", based in poole. While their activities were excellent, their staff were not. They were rude, stuck up, and disorganised (despite a few kind outliers). I will delve deeper into the disorganisation in the "ugly" section. I am not the only one who had this opinion either, everyday in the second week they held a forum for the students' opinions to be heard and many people agreed that the staff were very rude and disrespectful (as were the D of E students but I expected better from the harbour challenge staff).
- The lack of facilities on the first week
We were stuck with a few unisex portaloos, 3 useless and temperamental portable showers, and a shower block (which was a long walk away) containing 3 showers. I wouldn't expect the world of a campsite, but I'd expect them to think through the ratio of facilities to teenagers, which was about 6:150
- The food on the first week
If you are a picky or specific eater with certain dietary needs, bring plenty of snacks! The food on the first week was not the best which is understandable considering we lived in a field but this is just a warning in case you need specific food. Because you won't get it unless you bring it yourself.
- The hours for the 3rd and 4th weeks
So for the weeks 3 and 4, we had to plan and carry out our "make a difference" project. This would have been fine if we didn't have to spend such a stupidly long amount of time on each aspect in order to complete it. It was required that we spend 30 hours on planning in week 3 and 30 hours on the project in week 4. So that's 60 hours in total to plan and carry out a project. I'm going to be honest and say that at least half of that time was wasted because we didn't need it all. I think the principle should be to finish the project in as much time as you need within the 2 weeks, rather than making us conform to a prolonged amount of hours.
- The limitations of the MAD project
We were told as a group that NCS didn't want any fundraising projects to be done, but rather something to make a noticeable difference to the community. So that is what we did, the annoying thing is that no one else did. So many people did a fundraiser which defeated the whole point. Things should have been more clear to everyone here.
And finally, the ugly:
- The barbecue on the second week
Oh goodness, the barbecue. A DISASTER! One of our activities was to budget a barbecue for our whole group and then cook it. Simple right? Oh no, apparently not. Our group successfully budgeted our food and handed in the paper stating what we needed. When the night of the barbecue came around we were told to meet at 6:30, ready to cook. Something went wrong and there was no sight of any food arriving until 7:30, then we realised that instead of buying our planned food, they just bulk bought the main items on the barbecue list for everyone to have, which mean that we didn't get our planned amount or type of food. Then instead of cooking it at the same time in our groups, they only had 4 barbecues and decided to call groups up to get their food one by one. I was group 8. So by the time we actually got around to eating, it was at least 8:00, and we were only allowed one item, until they called us up again (at snail's pace) for seconds. USELESS.
- The organisation
I've already given some prime examples of the shocking organisation throughout the entire experience so you may know that by now that it was awful! The groups got mixed up, timings were all over the place, no-one knew what we were doing or where we were supposed to be and when. It was just terrible.
- The communication between everyone
There was clearly some rubbish communication going on between the head office, the wave leaders, the team leaders, and then the students considering how terrible the organisation was throughout. Nobody knew what was going on half the time and there were so many mix-ups! I think the must have expected us to be mind readers or wizards.
- The false advertising
I'm sure you've probably had that NCS assembly with loud music and an amazing video and explanation of these "oh so cool" upcoming weeks. Yes, it was an amazing experience. But we were told a very different story compared to the reality.
- "The bee man"
Oh my goodness, I've never had such a hilariously boring hour in my life. One of the talks during the second week was a man from some sort of earth charity (no-one actually knows which one because he didn't mention it once). He began his speech with the question of "what is conservation?", we listened expecting him to tell us, but oh no, we never learned what conservation is. We listened to an hour of this man talking to us about bees and the ocean at a pace of a sloth. IT. WAS. EXHAUSTING. I could see some people around the room beginning to drift off and do that head-jolty thing when you're falling asleep, and to be honest my eyes began to close too. It was just terrible.
Anyway, with all that being said, the overall experience and life lessons I've lived through NCS have been some excellent ones. And thanks to that, I can say that I'm happy I did it.
Let me know how you found it if you went.
Subscribe to Velvet Navy
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox