A CUMBRIA-based national charity which offered 1,000 free days of adventure in the Lake District this August to help the young people most affected by lockdown, says the scheme has been so successful they will be extending it into the autumn.

With young people spending more time indoors than ever before, The Outward Bound Trust launched the 1,000 fully-funded activity days for young people aged 11-17, using adventurous outdoor experiences to immerse them in nature and helping them to develop key skills including resilience, self-confidence and positivity.

Free places were prioritised for young people who were eligible for free school meals, with those taking part given the chance to try everything from canoeing and abseiling, to climbing and wild swimming.

Director of Business Development at The Outward Bound Trust, Natalie Harling, says: “The Adventure Days have given dedicated time for social interaction, allowing young people to make new friends, have a break from their screen – and perhaps most importantly – to have some fun in a safe, outdoor environment.”

Outward Bound’s Head of Summer Programmes, Oli Blomfield, agrees. He says the Adventure Days have made a real difference to those who need it most. “To take just one example, we had a brother and sister from a low income, single parent family where their mum was an NHS Key Worker and a recently widowed mother of three.

“She put her children forward for the scheme because they had struggled with online learning during the pandemic and she was unable to buy individual devices for them to work on, whilst she was busy tackling the virus in the workforce.

“This was an opportunity to give them a well-deserved break, that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.”

“Another participant had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder following an accident and being bullied. The Adventure Days were a great way for her to get back to something she enjoyed and to help re-built her self-esteem.”

Oli continues: “We’ve heard from so many other parents who believe these experiences have made a real difference to their children’s mental wellbeing and enabled them to go completely outside their usual comfort zone. Knowing that a young person has gone home happy because they carried a canoe, rolled it over and swam in the lake for the first time gives us immense pride that we are making a genuine difference for the next generation.”

This August’s Adventure Days have been made possible through a donation of £100,000 from Barratt Developments, which helped fund the free places to enable young people to successfully transition out of lockdown.

Natalie Harling adds: “Given their success we want to extend the Adventure Days over the weekends in Ullswater up to half term. We then want to offer two weeks not just in the Lake District, but also at our Scottish base at Loch Eil and Aberdovery in North Wales during the October half term breaks.

“More than ever, this is what our young people need right now, and this will enable even more participants to benefit from an amazing experience with us.”

Outward Bound’s main Cumbrian residential centre is at Ullswater, which is twinned with a second centre across the lake at Howtown. That is in addition to a base in Eskdale, which is used by apprentices, graduates and young people at the start of their careers.

Find out more about 1,000 days of adventure at: outwardbound.org.uk/adventure-days