Tag Archives: Abergavenny

The Challenge – Week 1

19 Oct

Some time last year, a speaker from a scheme called “The Challenge” turned up at my school to talk about a three week course for 16-17 year olds. At first, I wasn’t that interested – neither were my friends. But then I had a look on their website, www.the-challenge.org and changed my mind.

It’s basically a course – the equivalent of gold Duke of Edinburgh – with other teenagers from your area that you most likely haven’t met before. On the first week, you go away somewhere in the UK – we went to Gilwern, Wales – for a high-octane course to challenge yourself and abilities. The whole point is to begin to trust your team, developing the strength to continue through difficult tasks. So in summer this year, I took part in the Challenge: and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone!

Day One: Hiking and Camping

We went on a 7 hour long hike across the mountain terrain in Abergavenny, through pouring rain and numerous sheep jokes. I ended up meeting my new ‘bestie’, who happened to be my twin in both personality and looks; and we were known as the smiley ones with unbroken smiles throughout the entire experience.

That night, our other teammates slept in their own poorly constructed tents, whilst we (my “twin” and I) used our limited knowledge of camping to put up a tent that actually LOOKED like a tent. Pretty impressive, right? Anyway, we slept in the freezing cold on hard ground, but somehow managed to have a pretty fun evening.

Day Two: Canoeing

We got up at the crack of dawn the next day, fuelled with adrenaline and hot chocolate, before starting an 8 hour canoe up a river back to the residential house. We were split into pairs and had to teach ourselves how to get up the river and to the sides whenever a boat was coming; trying hard not to be hit in the face by thorns and ivy trails. It was absolutely hilarious, particularly when two of our teammates capsized and ended up waist deep in murky water – falling about laughing and trying to tip the rest of us in with them (to no prevail, thank God). By the time we got back, we were greeted with the most well-earned and amazing showers that we had ever had – as well as warm cups of tea and hot chocolate to warm us up.

Day Three: Caving

With numerous Batman related jokes, this was by far one of the best days of the week. We went in with our hard hats with attached torches and batteries; extremely unattractive and bulky wetsuits and bright red wellies. Led by our guide – who we fondly nicknamed “C-Biscuit” – we travelled through many different cracks and crevices, many times having to army crawl through mud and freshwater to get around the cave. Then, to top it all off, we jumped into the very deep, very cold water at the mouth of the cave. This meant that when you dragged your body out of the water, you could take off your wellies and pour out a good two to three pints of water!

Day Four: Climbing and Special Guests

On the last full day of the week, we were informed that we would be visited by two very prestigious people: David Cameron and Bear Grylls. I was chosen, due to my “excellent signs of empathy and warming disposition in handling each task” to be an ambassador for our ‘wave’ (all of the groups from our area, around 60 teenagers in total) and greet the guests. It was a terrific day, filmed by ITV news for Wales as well as the BBC. I also took on the responsibility of looking after Bear Grylls’ children for about am hour whilst he was being interviewed for the news – no doubt the most impressive customer for babysitting I’ve ever had. He also took part in some of our trust exercises, whereby we lifted him above our heads and walked around a couple of times. After they’d gone, we then did some rock-climbing up a cliff face, but that wasn’t anywhere near as exciting as meeting the Prime Minister and the man who drinks his own pee in order to survive the wild.


So to finish off the first of the Challenge reviews, I’d say it was one of the best summers of my life, and every 16 year old should do it, and any parent with a 16 year old should push them to do it! It cost me only 35 pounds by registering on the internet, and it has impressed all the people I have told so go for it!

And one last comment, it’s a good thing to do if you want to lose weight – I lost 10lbs in 5 days because of it! It just goes to show that hard work really does pay off 😉