UK | Outdoor Camp Volunteer | Nicole

Nicole, a 19-year-old from Germany, embarked on a transformative volunteering experience with New Ventures Worldwide (NVW) at an outdoor camp in the UK. The initial two months were dedicated to extensive training, covering activities from water rescue techniques to zip-wire rescues and orienteering. Nicole emerged from the training as a competent leader, able to guide groups of children through various activities. Her enthusiasm shines through as she expresses “lots of fun” in the process. Nicole revels in the joy of working with children, enjoying the ever-changing dynamic as each week brings a new group. She emphasises the sense of community, having arrived alone but now feeling firmly established among “great people” and having made “lots of friends.”

“The first two months were all training. I was assessed on all activities and can now lead groups of children. It’s lots of fun! I love working with children; there’s a new group each week. My team are great people. Although I came alone, I now have many friends and am part of a community.”

Motivation to Volunteer

Nicole’s inspiration to volunteer stems from a desire for a gap year after completing school, inspired by her sister’s experiences. The prospect of gaining real-world work experience, a broader perspective, and achieving independence motivated her to take this significant step.

“Inspired by my sister, I wanted to do a gap year after school. I knew it would be a great experience to have a proper working life, gain perspective, and leave my parents’ house. It’s real independence.”

Living Away for the First Time

Living away from home for the first time was a seamless transition for Nicole. The camaraderie among 15 other volunteers and 40 instructors facilitated a smooth integration into a new environment. Socialising both in and out of work created a sense of belonging. Nicole reflects on the multicultural nature of the UK compared to Germany, adjusting to the weather and appreciating the open-minded and friendly people.

“The people made it very easy. We socialise together, and there are so many of us that there’s always something fun happening. The UK is more multicultural in the UK than Germany, and the people are very open-minded and friendly. I’m still getting used to the weather, and they promised me it does get sunny sometimes.”

Food and Accommodation

Nicole describes the food as “very tasty,” with all meals provided and a delightful tradition of fish and chips every Friday. Accommodation-wise, she started by sharing a room with three people but later moved into a more intimate setting with just two. The rooms are comfortable and spacious, each with a bathroom. The communal lodge offers additional amenities such as a big TV and a private kitchen.

“The food here is delicious, and I love that all the meals are provided. My place is very comfy and spacious, and we often hang out in the lodge with a big TV and private kitchen.”

Experience with NVW

Nicole’s experience with NVW was “very smooth.” The support she received during the interview stage and the ongoing backing from NVW, including regular check-ins, contributed to a positive and empowering experience.

“It was very smooth. From the interview stage to supporting me before I went and even while I was here. They’ve been great at every step.”

Personal Growth and Future Aspirations

Reflecting on personal growth, Nicole notes a significant change in her ability to express emotions. Being part of a close-knit community allowed her to normalise emotions that were once challenging to convey. This profound experience has influenced her future aspirations, as she now plans to study psychology and become a therapist for children and teenagers.

“When I was in Germany, it was hard to express my emotions. I was ashamed to cry, but here I am, so part of the community and seeing so many emotions that you learn it’s normal. After this experience, I will study psychology and want to be a therapist for children and teenagers.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

Nicole’s advice for those considering a similar experience echoes a sentiment of initial nervousness turning into a profound sense of fulfilment. She encourages others to embrace the opportunity, emphasising that being immersed in the community and activities makes it one of the best decisions in life.

“I know many people are nervous, but it was one of the best decisions I took in my life. I was nervous, but when you’re here with the people and activities, you’ll know it was a great decision to do a gap year.”