Building empathy, confidence and Trust - Police Scotland Youth Volunteers

Loch Eil Group1Guest blogger Michael Dalton, PSYV member, gives us an insight into the course outcomes his group experienced while attending an Outward Bound® course at The Trust’s Loch Eil Centre, this September.

From stewarding at charity fundraisers to backing our local bobbies on the beat, Cumnock’s Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) are often renowned for being prepared for anything. Nevertheless, our Outward Bound course at Loch Eil, located close to Ben Nevis, in the Highlands, was a watermark moment for the group.

The aim of the PSYV is to strengthen the relationship with Scotland’s Police forces and young people, to break down barriers and to promote positive role models. One of the ways in which PSYV Cumnock have sought to do this, is through learning and adventure in the wild.

By empowering young volunteers to take-on new experiences in an unknown and sometimes uncomfortable environment like Loch Eil, the PSYV are helping to strengthen our character and resilience, so that we can benefit more from the wider PSYV programme.

Characteristics like increased confidence, a realisation in the value of team work and an appreciation for communication and leadership skills, are all beneficial to a PSYV member. Not only that, but more tangible outcomes such as improved time keeping and problem solving abilities are really useful to us all.

So, how did we set-about capturing these characteristics and outcomes? Well to start with we were immediately immersed into the natural environment when we arrived, with a jump into a deep, and not to mention, freezing loch at half past nine at night! From then on it was non-stop action; rigging abseils to the top of cliffs, to tree climbs the height of three story buildings, the challenges we faced were by no means small.

Loch Eil Group2We also had to abide by a strict schedule throughout our stay. We were up and out of bed by half past seven and ready for breakfast by eight o’clock each and every morning. This routine provided us with a framework for the day and ensured that we got the most out of our stay too.

One thing I really noticed was how the team building exercises helped our whole group come together and communicate effectively with one another. These were vital skills that both the PSYV and The Trust were keen to action throughout the course. Without these valuable skills being practiced and repeated I am certain that we would not have completed half of the tasks we were set.

For example, when we were tasked with rigging an abseil we had to communicate clearly and effectively and to share knowledge between us. Our instructor described this as peer to peer learning but we just understood it as being helpful. During this activity the whole group (almost unknowingly) practiced communication skills and helped each other to understand our strengths, weaknesses and areas in which we should improve.

Another thing that we will really take away from the course was the increased level of empathy and trust amongst our group. This  was particularly present during the Jacobs ladder challenge, as we all had to depend on our partners to help us reach the top and the team on the ground, to ensure that we were safe and secure.

It was really gratifying to know that we won’t be as cautious around each other now, as we know that we have faith in one and other and we can all support each other.

The lasting benefits of this will be huge to our current PYSV group in Cumnock and I'm looking forward to applying everything I've learnt back at home and school, not to mention in the PSYV.

To find out more about PSYV Cumnock's course aims and outcomes or to understand how an Outward Bound course may be able to benefit your youth group or school please contact our education team here.