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Hands up if you’re a parent with teenagers soon to be transitioning from secondary school to Sixth Form College? Keep those hands up if the holidays feel just a little bit too long. Do your kids spend their free time with little drive and next to no sense of purpose, unless it involves an Xbox or a smartphone? Pull up a chair, National Citizen Service (NCS) might be exactly the thing you and your family are looking for. (No, it’s not national service, I’m not trying to recruit your little darlings into the Armed Forces!)
I’ll bet you have questions – I know I did…
So firstly, what’s it all about?
National Citizen Service is basically a summer camp for young people aged 16-17. That is it in a nutshell and yet it is so much more than that. Participants are from across the whole of England and Northern Ireland, from a wide variety of backgrounds and social settings.
It’s a fun way to instil some community spirit in your teens, emphasising our similarities rather than our differences. A way of bringing out the best in the next generation, showing them the way to be more focused, well rounded adults.
How long is the programme?
It’s a two to four week event which always takes place within school holidays.
What does this event comprise?
Each event is made up of four sections – team building exercises, which are mainly based outdoors. A residential stay where our intrepid participants learn valuable life skills in an unfamiliar environment. A community based social action project – here the teens will see their efforts in action and will realise the benefits of contributing to their local community. And finally, a celebration event to mark their progress and achievements.
Actually no, you would be surprised – I know I was! The price is £50 all in – that’s food, accommodation and travel expenses – isn’t that great value? For those of us that would struggle to find a spare £50 (and we have all been there, there’s no shame in it), bursaries are available and applications are assessed on a case by case basis. Of course if your child has additional needs, help will be available for them.
Not only is it amazing value, but pound for pound, more money goes back from National Citizen Service into society – for example – for every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society.
So your kids learn new skills, and society reaps the rewards. It’s win win!
Is this a new thing?
Relatively. It is less than ten years old but in that short space of time, almost four hundred thousand young people have taken part in the NCS experience and more than seven million hours of community action have been undertaken – so while in essence it is a fun, learning experience, it’s also incredibly worthwhile.
What’s the catch? Come on, there has to be one.
I can see why you would say that. I was a bit sceptical too, but I have really looked into it and talked to my own kids and their friends and I can’t see a down side. Everyone benefits. At a time when the world seems to be more divided than ever, something that brings us together like this can only be a good thing.
Would you let YOUR teens do this?
100% YES! I am signing my sons up just as soon as I have finished writing this piece. I think it will be good for both of them in different ways.
Kids, particularly teenagers on the brink of adulthood need to know that they can be in control of their own futures. They can BE the change they want to see. National Citizen Service will help equip them to be productive, compassionate members of society.
But don’t listen to me – have a look at what these young people are saying about National Citizen Service:
Jamie, 17 feels that NCS will be a new experience where he will learn skills for life.
Charlea, 14 thinks the NCS is a brilliant thing. ” I am hoping to join the NCS programme. I want to go because it’s a week away with my friends and then the following 2-3 weeks to spend time with them as well. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing new things like living away from home for example. I am hoping that within the 3-4 weeks my self confidence will grow and I’ll hopefully face some fears. I can’t wait to go, it seems like so much fun and a really good opportunity to learn new skills and possibly make new friends. I think NCS will be a real eye opener for a lot of people and I’m very excited to experience it.”
Alex, 15 is keen to be involved. He says “NCS will help with team building skills and making new friends. I think it will come at a good time for me, when I have just finished school and just before I start college – like a stepping stone to a more adult routine. Bring it on!”
I think as many young people as possible should be given the opportunity to participate in NCS. With a little help and encouragement, we can all be the difference. Ready to get your teens involved and help them feel unstoppable? Give them what it takes to succeed. There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now, go to the National Citizen Service website. Go for it and watch them flourish!