"This interview has really brought back some great memories of my trainee days!"
Hi Anna, tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, I’m 19 and studied Biology, Chemistry and Maths at A level where I grew up just outside of Oxford. I’m in my first year of the Instructor Training Programme, and loving it; I’ve always liked being outdoors, and spent a fair amount of time out and about through Scouting. Coming here has allowed me to further that passion. Outside of work I enjoy baking, playing the violin (with varying success) and reading a good book, especially if it’s thought provoking!
What attracted you to Rock UK and the Instructor Training Programme?
I fully intended to go to uni straight after school, but on results day decided that it wasn’t the right thing for this year. Once I’d cancelled my uni place I was left wondering what to do. The combination of my Christian faith and liking the outdoors led me to consider Rock UK. The team was so welcoming when I came for my interview that I felt it was somewhere I could belong, and so here I am.
Has it been like you thought it would be?
Given the slightly last minute nature of my deciding to come here, I didn’t really have time to form expectations as to what it’d be like! I guess I was expecting to be part of a team and to be challenged, both of which are certainly true. In terms of instructing I wasn’t expecting so many groups from schools; Frontier Centre gets a fair number of 8-11 year olds coming on residential trips which simply hadn’t occurred to me.
How did you settle in?
I was pretty nervous heading up to Whithaugh Park in the Scottish Borders for the first time. What if the people were all horrible? What if I didn’t fit in? What if every meal was fish and I couldn’t eat anything? I needn’t have worried though; everyone is in the same boat and what I found was a group of lovely people who were ready to have fun and get to know each other. Most of us got there on the Saturday before starting on Monday so we had a bit of time to chill together and begin to form friendships. (And there’s a good range of meals, always something for everyone to eat!)
What are the other people on the programme like?
They’re great! Everyone is different and there’s a wide mix of talents, experiences, ages and backgrounds which produces this wonderful pool of knowledge. Everyone is in a different place, particularly faith-wise, which allows for a huge amount of learning from each other too. We did have moments where people got a bit stressed or didn’t get on amazingly but that’s part of life and it certainly helped us all develop as individuals and as a team.
What was it like climbing Blencathra in the Lake District during your first week?
Blencathra was an experience. I went into it pretty positively – paddling and climbing at this point were terrifying to me, but walking I could do. It was going great until we reached Sharp Edge. I’d never really done scrambling before, and the idea of climbing up these rocks was a million miles outside of my comfort zone. I remember being halfway up a rock face which felt vertical, very aware that if I fell off I would do myself some serious damage, and just not being able to move. Everyone was great though; people were willing to help in whatever way they could, and we made it to the top as a team. It was a challenge, yes, but also a massive achievement – the first of many.
Did you get homesick?
In a word, no – I’ve spent a fair amount of time away from home before and during ITP you’re so busy and are having so much fun there’s no time to miss home really.
What did you love doing throughout your training?
I absolutely fell in love with climbing. We all got the opportunity to go to Eden Rock, a bouldering centre in Carlisle, once a week, and bouldering became a bit of an escape for me. On the less active side of things, I enjoyed the discipleship days we did; it was great to have a space where we could go deeper into various issues and there was a really open atmosphere for learning and asking questions.
Thanks Anna, I hope you enjoy the rest of your course.