During the summer holidays Connect Berwickshire Youth Trust aimed to bring local youngsters together to experience fun activities and challenging expeditions - and delivered in spades.
Youngsters from the age five to their late teens have been to holiday clubs, day trips, sailing adventures, and outward bound courses and most are now back at school for a rest!
The holiday period started off with a residential week of adventurous activities in Glencoe in partnership with Girvan Youth Project.
To pay for the trip the trust’s young volunteer group organised bingo nights, cream teas, bag packing and a wonderful ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ evening in Duns.
A crew of eight young people from Eyemouth went sail training with Tall Ships Youth Trust from Whitehaven in Cumbria and cruised the west coast of Scotland for a week.
Connect manager Steve Wright said: “Once again the crew returned full of tales from the high seas and our staff were really impressed with the efforts of the young crew.
“All the associated costs of the voyage were covered through funding from Scottish Government’s People and Communities Fund.
“Just when things were calming down a bit, we heard from our friends at Cirdan Sailing Trust who offered us a week on board ‘Faramir’ their 70ft sail training yacht. Once again we jumped at the chance; a new crew of young folk were raring to go. Some of the crew had heard the stories from previous voyages and were determined not to miss out.
“They set sail from Hartlepool bound for Lindisfarne and by the time they returned at the end of the voyage, they had been caught up on a lobster pot requiring the boat crew to dive down to free the yacht - in the dark - saved an ailing engine due to contaminated diesel and made it back to port on time.
“This trip was at short notice and we were able to meet the costs through our own ‘Action Fund.’ This fund was recently set up so we are able to react to opportunities when they arise.”
For many of the youngsters taking part in the trips obviously had a profound effect.
“I came back very, very happy and with more confidence,” said Sophie. “I can speak in small groups now. It was a very good week away.”
“The experience has changed my way of thinking and has motivated me to better myself,” said Grace. “I came away inspired by everyone’s stories and experiences which I will bring back and use to encourage the young people in the project.
And Daniel’s advice? “Never under-estimate your own value”.
Following a week long course with Outward Bound Trust in Aberdovey Snowdonia, two young people, Sam Nixon from Coldstream and Ethan Mole from Swinton were awarded scholarships to go on a three week adventurous training course at Outward Bound, Loch Eil.
“Both told us that their experiences in the Highlands were a bit special and they learned a lot about themselves and the other young folk who took part,” said Steve.
Meanwhile, back in Berwickshire there have been weekly trips to theme parks, Dunbar pool and barbecue day and a day in Glasgow at the Youth Active Festival.
“Each trip involved young people from across Berwickshire and it was great to see new friendships being made,” added Steve.
In Coldstream the term time After School Club turns into the ‘Holiday Club’ for children aged five years and over.
Play leader Lauren and assistant Charles provided an exciting and varied programme of activities over the summer, Steve saying: “Every time I called in to say ‘hello’ they were either out somewhere, just leaving from somewhere, or getting back from somewhere! One thing was guaranteed though, when I did catch up with them, there were always lots of smiling faces and this brought a smile to my face.”
“I am very proud of all the staff and young people who have contributed to make this summer’s activities as ambitious and varied as they have been,” said Steve.
“Young people from Duns, Eyemouth, Coldstream, Swinton, Cockburnspath, Burnmouth, Greenlaw etc have all shared, enjoyed and benefited from their experiences.”
Connect has recently secured the lease on the TEDDA Centre, meaning they finally have premises in Eyemouth that will give them the chance to expand youth provision in the town and a programme of activities is currently being drawn up by the Connect team.
Check the Eyemouth Connect Facebook page for details of activities and projects; Coldstream After School Club Facebook Page; and Like us on ‘Connect Duns,’ ‘Connect Eyemouth’ and ‘Connect Coldstream’ Facebook Pages and find out what is going on for young people near you.