My NCS Experience | Week 1

If you didn't already know, this week, I participated in the first part of my NCS programme. If you don't know what NCS is then, in a nutshell, it is a three week programme for 15-17 year olds in the UK to take part in, in order to learn new life skills and challenge themselves. For more information on the programme, check out the NCS website HERE.

This first week was based on physical activities and really pushing yourself to the limit. I shall now give you a run down on each day that I stayed away from home (Monday-Friday) in order to honestly tell you about my experience in case you are thinking about taking part!


If I was to tell you that I was terrified on Monday, it would be the biggest understatement of the century. Spending a whole week away from home? Doing outdoors activities which I hated? With people I had never met before? AKA my idea of a nightmare! But, I went to my meeting point nonetheless whilst dragging my suitcase behind me and staying close to my Mum's side.
After saying our goodbyes, we participants were split into teams, giving us a chance to play games and so tasks with our senior team mentors, allowing us to get to know each other. Most of us were understandably quite to begin with and there was no way any words were coming out of my mouth unless it was absolutely necessary!
After splitting off into teams and me saying about 3 words in the space of 2 hours, we all clambered onto the coach and began our 6 hour drive up to Scotland. I slept with my earphones in for pretty much the entirety of the journey, meaning I had Taylor Swift blasting into my ears none stop.
When we arrived in Scotland, we were allocated rooms. I stayed with 5 other girls and slept on a bottom bunk. After this, we did not really do much that evening apart from eat, shower, and play a few games with the other 59 people and staff members on our programme.

Breakfast was at 8:20am, however, after not having the most pleasant night's sleep due to our bedroom being the temperature of the Sun, waking up at 7am wasn't very exciting. We did make it down for breakfast in time though and, afterwards, met our activities instructor / expert in everything about the outdoors for the week. We discovered that we were going to be going rock climbing and abseiling. Definitely not my forte and definitely petrified me.
We travelled on the coach to the crag and started off with some bouldering (climbing across the rock up to waist height without a rope) and I barely managed to do that!
After bouldering, we moved on to actual climbing with harnesses and helmets. We were shown how to wear them and then it sunk in that I was about to potentially climb up a 30ft cliff.
I watched my team climb with ease, which brought on the tears. Yep, that's right, I cried on the first proper day in front of a bunch of strangers who I had to spend the next 2 weeks with. Typical Emily haha!
I cried 4 times over the course of that day due to many instructors constantly trying to persuade me to give climbing a go and also because I was so overwhelmed with being thrown in at the deep end and feeling really out of my comfort zone.
So, as you can guess, I did no climbing or abseiling, unlike my team, that day, but don't regret it at all. I am a wimp and proud! :D
Our Tuesday evening, once again, consisted of eating, showering and team reflection of the day and a few games.


On Wednesday morning, we went raft building at a pond / lake / water thingy on site, another activity which scared me. yay.
We built rafts in 2 teams to see whose could make it all the way across the pond and back with all 7 people on it. Doesn't seem like an easy challenge, especially when the materials we had were wood, rope and barrels! The opposing group's raft quickly sank, as did ours when we ventured out into the water, causing me to get drenched and die from the cold. We then moved on to building one big raft with the same materials, which was supposed to carry 13 people. I helped with the building side of things but decided not to get onto the raft this time as once was definitely enough! Sooo, once again, looking like and wimp and proudly so!
After showering and cleaning up so we no longer felt like something that had been dragged out of the bottom of that dirty water, we had to pack up massive rucksacks stuffed with sleeping bags, clothes and other essentials as we had a night of camping ahead of us!
We had to trek to the campsite, whilst reading the map ourselves, and, let me tell you, it was a challenge! I would say it was at least a good 4 miles.
Upon arriving at the tents, we were greeted by other teams who were to be sharing the area with us that night and then ate dinner.
We later did some more team activities and chilled around the campfire before retiring to our tents.
That was without a doubt the worst night's sleep I have ever had....mainly because I had no sleep due to the freezing temperature and uncomfortableness of the lumpy ground we were sleeping on. I don't think I actually kept my eyes shut for more than 10 minutes!


I was very glad to get out of the tent on Thursday morning! We ate breakfast and packed up our bags and prepared ourselves for a very long day. We had an 8 mile hike ahead of us before walking a few more miles back to where we were staying.
I definitely felt the most gross I have ever felt in my life that day as we slept in our clothes, hadn't brushed our teeth or washed properly and had been attacked by a good few hundred insects!
I started off the map and compass reading for the day and wasn't too bad! The walk was intense and hard on the feet and legs, especially when we climbed up the tallest, most vertical hill I have ever come across, although the views along the way were insanely pretty! We climbed across many rocks and there were many occasions when I genuinely thought I was going to either fall flat on my face whilst running down a mountain or sink into a stream but I survived haha!
Thursday, although it was tough and I couldn't wait to get back and shower, was by far my favourite day. I am much more of a walking person than I am an abseiling person, so this was certainly for me. It was also great exercise!
Everybody was exhausted after we arrived back at our rooms and couldn't get in the shower fast enough! We did play some more team games and reflected upon the day's walk after our meal though. Despite the beds that we had not being the most comfortable things in the world, I definitely wasn't going to complain about sleeping in one after pretty much staying on the ground the night before!

Friday was the day we got to go home! YAYYYY! We woke up early to pack and strip our beds and then went down for breakfast. We were then given packed lunches for the coach ride home and hit the road soon after! The journey home was long, despite the stop on the way, but I definitely didn't care as the excitement of going home to my own bed and proper food was so real!
The first thing I did when I arrived home, after chatting to my Mum about what went down that week, was have a bath and put my pyjamas on. I then immediately felt a million times better!

Emotions definitely ran high for me this week, especially as there were many tears! I did spend most of the week feeling homesick, which I expected anyways, and down. Physical outdoor activities aren't my thing anways but when mixed with a bunch of people I don't know and an unfamiliar environment, (which had shockingly bad phone signal and no Internet) it wasn't pleasant. I did manage to survive though, which I am proud of myself for doing! Although many may say I didn't challenge myself this week, I would definitely disagree. Not only did I challenge myself with the long hike (which I actually loved) but my personal challenge was even just being there. Signing up in the first place was my challenge and I completed a whole week.

The people in my team and staff on my programme were really nice. Nobody was nasty to me and everyone pulled together and helped out during activities. On the topic of making friends however, I wasn't successful. Many people on my programme managed to make friends within a day, which I really admire as making friends isn't my forte so the fact that anyone can become so close to someone in such a short space of time amazes me! Bonds were quickly formed in my group between other girls, me, however, stayed quite (as that is just the type of person I am) and yeah....made no friends as no one was interested. Everyone else swapped phone numbers and social media names before going home on Friday but didn't ask for mine. Never mind. :)

I'm sure you all want to know what the food was like when I was away! The food given to us on the site where we stayed wasn't the best, I will admit. There were plenty of options, however, they weren't the tastiest things I have ever eaten, let's just leave it there haha! Although, you may have liked some of the foods which I didn't! :)

My overall feelings towards the first week aren't too positive. I definitely wouldn't say that I had 'fun', perhaps that is just because I am not an outdoorsy person. However, I know that many people on the programme had an amazing time, so don't let that put you off! It's all down to personal likes and what sort of person you are but at least it was only a week! I know I am much more looking forward to week 2 as the activities are much more up my street.
I didn't spend a lot of this week being happy and did feel left out most of the time, but at least it is over now! (Even though I am in the same team for the next 2 weeks!)

So that is part 1 done!! On Monday 13th July I will travel to a University not too far from me with the same people and we will stay in the accommodation there until Friday. I have already met the girls who I am sharing a flat with and they seem lovely, which is always a bonus! We have already chosen our food for the week (which we had a budget for) and will be required to make our own meals, which will no doubt give us skills for life.
During the day, we will be working in teams again and learning a new skill of our choice, which, for me, will either be photography, media or enterprise, as those were my 3 choices. We shall have to wait and see what I end up doing!
At the end of the week there will be a showcase, which our families can attend, which will give us a chance to present the work we have been doing over the course of the week.

I hope this blog post was somewhat useful to some of you who are thinking about taking part in NCS next Summer. I shall be uploading another post next Friday to tell you all about my second week!

Leave any questions you have about NCS in the comments OR Tweet them to me! <3

Love, Emily :) xx


  1. wow. i really liked this. im going with my 4 friends. im so nervous

  2. Do they take photos while your on the programme? If they do do they upload them and where to? I'm thinking its where it says the 'my programme' thing but my mum thinks otherwise :( thanks :)