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25 May 2011

Ministry of Entrepreneurship - Young Leaders Programme - Kidsco and Embercombe

About 18 months ago I had a vision to create a unique programme in association with Embercombe the sustainable farm in Devon and Kidsco - one of the UKs leading charity that works with Inner city London young people. Since I returned from India in early March along with a small team of people we’ve worked to get this programme off the ground by raising funds (8k), identifying the young participants and finalising the structure of the programme.

This week we are actually down on the farm in Embercombe living out that vision with some special young people from Kidsco. We are currently into day 3 of the programme and for many of the young people it’s already starting to have a positive impact on them and how they feel – equally for the 4 facilitators involved in the programme we too are gaining so much from this experience. It’s so great to be around the teams energy there is so much passion, drive and energy – give them a challenge and they will on the whole take it on fully.

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions already with deeply touching moments, fun, laughter, frustration, upset, anger, vulnerability, maturity, excitement and still lots more to come. Below is a brief overview of the experiences to date and then a whole series of photos that capture the moments more lucidly than my words could ever.

Sunday – the trip down – the guys where held up by a tree that decided it was time to fall on the tracks but wasn’t going to prevent them from making it down to Embercombe. I picked them up from the station in the mini-bus that smelt like it was last used by the local rugby team – I think this gave the team a sense of the rough and ready nature of what was to come. Some of them were at that moment still worrying about making sure they had plenty of nail varnish – this was soon to be exchanged with the grime and dirt of the Embercombe forest.

The team were introduced to their Mongolian Yurts a combination of squeals and shouts of excitement with a thudding realisation that this was no 5 star hotel – and you have to light your own fires too – the team were soon at it organising themselves in to their bedrooms – organising their environments to feel more at home.

We spent that evening discussing life over food and then in the centre fire sat in a circle on the sofas with a blazing fire keeping us all warm – it was a privilege to sit and listen to their stories and hearing their anticipation for the week ahead.

Monday was an early rising for many it had been a chilly night for many and yet they were energised and up for the day. We shared with them the structure of the week and also let them know there would be a few team surprises including the team challenge on the Monday afternoon and the ‘Big Project’ that would be announced on Tuesday afternoon – I can’t tell you the amount of times they tried to find out what this was all in a playful and cheeky manner.

Monday was spent focused on the impact of our beliefs and how they can support and limit us. We did an exercise around strengths and then got them to share with one another what they saw in others – this was a beautiful moment – for many of these young people it was their first opportunity to really acknowledge all of the potential they have and to realise the good that they demonstrate in their behaviours.

We took them on a journey through life to consider what their purpose so that they could at first hand internally gain a sense of meaning, potential and purpose. These processes brought up a lot of rich learning that I’ve no doubt will serve them on-going.

Monday afternoon took them to a new place, from the introspective world to the world of team working, achieving a common goal in challenging circumstances. A leader took the reins for the first challenge to the team which was to fire up the open clay ovens, preparing the wood for burning whilst another team went out on the farm to harvest fresh produce. Another team prepared pizza bases – there challenge was to prepare a wholesome and fresh dinner for 40+ people and all in a couple of hours.

Individually and collectively they took to this challenge with gusto and focus, organising themselves and working as a team to make sure that they achieved their individual, team and overall task.

They did a fantastic job with creating over 90 pizzas ensuring there was a second portion for anyone who wanted it. They served the Embercombe team like a first rate restaurant – Gordon Ramsey would have been proud!! They created a desert of fresh strawberries and ensured plenty of liquid refreshments for everyone. Once this was achieved they then set about collectively cleaning down, tidying and ensuring everything was back in its right place – they relaxed at the end of the day after a well-earned rest.

Tuesday We spent the morning debriefing what was learnt from Day 1 and the team challenging, the team were on a real rollercoaster as they debriefed on what worked and what could have been better. They showed a huge amount of maturity as they talked through how they wanted to enhance how they worked together and sought to ensure that they built out a defined and agreed set of leadership team behaviours and rules so that they would be as effective as possible for the Big Challenge.

After lunch they were taking to a large hole in the ground at the top of the Embercombe site and here they were briefed by their client on what was needed. The big challenge for the team is to build a beautiful wooden fence to go around the well. No easy task when you start to realise that they have to dig the holes, embedded the poles, chop, break and split the wood, before then stripping and preparing the fence panels – some 450 that need to be prepared.

The rest of Tuesday afternoon in the woods learning the new skills that they would need to accomplish this task successfully. It wasn’t lost on the team that this would be a Kidsco contribution and legacy that would always remain here at Embercombe – I’ve no doubt that as this takes shape this will become even more important and significant to them.

Following another intense and physical day it was off to the beach for fish and chips – a few brave souls decided to venture into the freezing British water – I was not one of them – but the pictures tell the story so enjoy.

More to come!



Anonymous said...

hey darren i like how i randomly came across this wen i typed in embercombe in to google thank you for everything xx lots of love lauren xx

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