Bigger, brighter and bolder: The all new Skills for Life Award

James Tedham, Course Director of The Skills for life Award's first group at Loch Eil, shares with us his thoughts on our all new summer programme.

The first Skills for Life Award has just completed and there is no doubt that it exceeded our expectations! The adventures were bigger, the learning outcomes bolder and the sun was brighter (okay so perhaps the last part hasn't always been true)!

The first few days of the Award were a whirlwind of introductions, orientation and activities for our plucky participants. Groups took to the seas, rivers and mountains surrounding the centre and even took on challenges abseiling and rock climbing on Glen Nevis. We like to go for a high energy, high impact start here at The Trust.

By week 2 instructors were leading groups deep into the wilderness for their first 5-day expedition. Equipping them with the skills, knowledge and experience so that they can embark on their very own self-led journey later in the programme.


From paddling and hillwalking to building a sense of camaraderie and fellowship amongst the group, the first exped was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. Not only that, but it also let everyone truly appreciate the scale and beauty of the environment, that the Award takes place in. 

After a well earned break and an evening of relaxation, the course continues with three more days of adventure: The first is 'solo', an opportunity for everyone to have the time and space to reflect on the course, soak in the nature around them and think about what they'd like to achieve in the future.

The second is what we like to call an 'enhanced adventure day' with an additional two instructors. In other words: a really unique opportunity to try something BIG, whether that be gorge scrambling, multi-pitch climbing or canoeing on white water. In Loch Eil, every group smashed it! 

The third day is specifically tailored for video statements and 1:1 catch-ups between instructors and participants. The pace is slower, but it gives everyone a real chance to map-out their plans for the future and ambitions for the end of the course.


After 2 weeks of preparation, the participants are then ready to begin packing and prepping for their final expedition. Hugely ambitious and by no means easy, these 3-day youth-led journeys are the most amazing experiences to be part of. Setting out on land and by boat, the final exped is a true test of everything participants have been taught over the weeks.

At Loch Eil for example, one group completed their journey by reaching the summit of Ben Nevis via the Ledge Route, while another two groups paddled back into the centre for their grand finale. The sense of achievement was huge.

As our first participants of the Skills for Life Award left the centre there was no doubt that we'd succeeded in what we had set out to achieve. Deliver a summer programme that not only equips participants with the skills needed for their future lives, but also provide them with an adventure of a lifetime that they'll never forget. 

To find out more about the Skills for Life Award click here or follow The Outward Bound Trust on Facebook and Instagram