Challenger Troop NW give us a taster of the future
Martin Peterson, Team Manager for Challenger Troop North West, has been involved with uniformed youth organisations for nearly 20 years.
A founding member of Challenger Troop Cheshire when it formally took possession of the keys for the Crown Gate TA Centre in Runcorn, a year ago in October 2012, he talks proudly of his team’s achievements over the past year:
“We set to work immediately on building relationships and promoting our core programmes. It was a blank canvas but we had all the support and expertise from our Challenger Troop counterparts in Kent to establish something inspirational and bespoke for Cheshire.
Building trust and relationships was a priority for us. The first schools to sign up to our programmes included Astmoor and Simms Cross Primary Schools, Malbank High School & Sixth Form College and Winsford E-ACT Academy. Each school had very different reasons for registering students to our programme; building self-confidence, working better with others, improving self-discipline and learning to show respect for others to name but a few. Engaging in challenging outdoor activities that took them out of their comfort zones was an ideal way to achieve this. Some students were on reduced timetables due to their behaviour in class. However, as a result of our programme and support in school, these students are now engaging more with the mainstream timetable and have returned to 100% attendance.
In February 2013 we embarked on our first residential as the culmination to our primary school programme. Safeguarding the participants in the cold, overnight temperatures was our first priority and we designed activities to keep everybody warm. The “Nav-Grab” exercise helped to make sure they were well fed; we recce’d the enemy position in anticipation of the laser attack activity in the morning; early evening they checked they could get into their sleeping bags okay (spares were on hand if needed, but they weren’t). The day would begin with a hot breakfast and a (for some, their first ever) cup of tea, then it was time to sort out personal kits and camping gear, and begin the morning drill. Apart from a few extra helpings of hot chocolate, the night routine went smoothly. As the youngsters kitted up for the laser attack the next morning, snow began to fall and covered the campsite with several inches. It was a real lesson in looking after themselves and keeping motivated, and quite an atmospheric ‘white’ ending to their residential.
The summer term programmes were fully booked. Woodchurch, Wilmslow and Wade Deacon High Schools joined our programmes. We ran activity days for Lymm High School, a Congleton cluster of primary schools and HMP Everthorpe, and also ran transition events for the King’s Leadership Academy in Warrington.
But for me, the highlight of our courses has to be the awards assemblies where we celebrate all of the successes. Every one of our participants receives an award but there is also a Special Recommendation for each course’s Best Endeavour, Most Improved and Top Student. During the awards events one deputy head commented; “The qualifications they will get as a result are great, but I’m really overwhelmed by the life skills they have developed”.
At the busy start to our September 2013 term we shared our successes with the new schools that have registered with us and reviewed the courses with the schools with which we have already worked. Our new instructors bring different skills, enabling us to offer more varied activities in the year ahead. The future looks exciting, with the opportunity to work with many more schools in the county and generate a second team to reach out and help even more young people. Will your school be one of the many working with us this year? We sincerely hope so!”
M. Peterson, Teams Manager, Cheshire
To contact the Cheshire team, please ring 0845 548070 or 07701 027264
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