We are Eve Szczelkun and Jack Payne- Bristol Youth Mayors- representatives of the Bristol City Youth Council. The Youth Council is made up of 28 elected Young Members voted into office by young people and 5 co-optees who represent certain groups. The Youth Council serve for 2 years- the elections were held in February and once elected to the Youth Council, we held an internal election to vote in the two Youth Mayors who have the position for a year.
The Youth Council was given the opportunity to send 12 of its members on an Outward Bound course free of charge in the hope that we would come back as promoters of the course; that we would persuade teachers to send their students on a week at Outward Bound. We hope that one day every student in Bristol is given the opportunity to attend an Outward Bound course, with the majority of students being able to take part free of charge. The Mayor attended Outward Bound as a student and has always been vocal in his support for the experience, he was imperative in allowing us to go.
We have just come back from the trip that the two of us were fortunate enough to go on and we can both say that our lives were changed positively. It was a gruelling and tiring week that made us step out of our comfort zone, but in doing so had so many great impacts.
We completed an expedition where we walked for almost 10 hours, carrying all our equipment, then wild camped next to a beautiful lake. We jumped off piers, went rock scrambling, abseiled, did high ropes courses and activities that made us work together as a team.
The experience was perfect for improving our teamwork skills since many challenges, such as a blindfolded walk involved communication.
Since the ages of the group varied from 12-16 with a range of abilities, supporting each other was a crucial part of the trip and it was amazing to see people who were themselves scared overcome fears and help others. Shy, quieter members of the Youth Council came out of their shells and it helped make us get to know each other better. We all bonded and friendships blossomed.
Everyone on the trip managed to overcome a fear and said that their confidence has improved and they are more willing to try new things and take risks. The challenges were harder than anything we’d done before and at the end of the week we left aching but sad it was over. We will never forget our incredible Outward Bound experience. We hope that every child in Bristol should have this opportunity.