New Beginnings as a Trainee Outdoor Instructor

First year trainee Sarah gives an insight into her first three months at Rock UK.
"I have honestly had the time of my life and have never been happier."

Sarah aged 18 from London joined our Instructor Training Programme as a trainee, last September. Sarah gives an insight into her first three months of training at Whithaugh Park.

As my train pulled away from the station and I started my journey to Scotland, I cried. I cried for fear of the unknown. Silly, I know, but I suddenly felt so underprepared. By the end of the 6-hour journey however I had pulled myself together and felt full of expectation and excitement. I was finally going to be doing something that I loved.

I am one of 23 recruits to join Rock UK’s Instructor Training Programme this year. For the first three months, we are all together training at Whithaugh Park in the Scottish Borders. On our first site tour, we walked to the top of the hill and flew down on a 300m zip wire, it was exhilarating to feel the wind in my face and the view was amazing.

It’s a little chilly in Scotland but gorgeous, when you come out of the trees, there are mountains all around us and it is so peaceful. My cabin-mates are all lovely. Working and living with a group of new people is a new experience but I have already built close friendships. If a stranger walked into the room at meal times they would think we had all known each other for years!

During our first week, we drove to the Lake District for our first climb. The weather was horrid and the pathways were leg-shatteringly steep and seemingly unending. We made it to the top but it was so windy we couldn’t stay for very long. We managed a quick prayer to our Heavenly Father and a photo before climbing down a different route. As we got below the clouds, a sudden display of sunshine blessed the sky and we could finally see where we were.

We achieved so much in the first month. We climbed Helvellyn; canoed on Ullswater; went caving without torches; lead climbing and hanging off crags; and dived deeper into God’s word during our worship sessions.

In late October, we all took a much-needed break. I enjoyed resting and catching up with family and friends back home.

As November approached, it became a lot chillier. We took the canoes down to Ullswater again, although this time it rained almost constantly and our boats precariously bounced over the waves. We sang and laughed as we fought the elements; we came back soggy but definitely happy.

I would love to travel back in time to reassure fear-filled Sarah that the next few months would be filled with incredible experiences: climbing the most beautiful mountains, kayaking across extraordinary lochs, huddling close to campfires under a million stars and worshipping with new like-minded friends.

Of course, there have been sleepless nights and times where I felt like I just wanted to go home. However, Rock UK has changed me. Yes, I have learnt new skills and met people who have shaped me but the changes go much deeper than that, I have come out the other side a different girl: I believe in myself again. I have honestly had the time of my life and have never been happier.

I have now joined the team at Carroty Wood in Tonbridge, where I will continue my training over the next two years. I am excited to be with the rest of the team and l am looking forward to delivering our activity programme to groups who visit us.

Find out more about our Instructor Training Programme