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Connor - Brighton HQ's Assistant Manager

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Hi Outdoors Project members, as a member of the office team and a regular leader in our clubs, I thought I'd share a little more about me and what I do to help put a face to a name!

My Role at The Outdoors Project

I do a mixute of everything Outdoors Project but here's a simple breakdown so you know where to find me!

After school clubs: I regularly lead clubs at St Andrews on a Tuesday, Elm Grove and Lancing Prepatory College (Years 3 - 8). You'll also find me occasionally covering leaders on holiday too. I love running our afterschool clubs and getting to spend an hour of outdoors action with our members after their day in school, encouraging some green excercise, trying new skills and just enjoying being outdoors together. The kids are so excited to come and literally turn up energetic and FULL of questions - "WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY?  CAN WE PLAY FERRY MAN? DO YOU HAVE MY PATCH? TAKE A LOOK AND SEE WHAT I MADE TODAY!" It's great fun, really rewarding to see and literally gives me energy! As the term progresses its great to start to get to know our members more, what their characters are and what they enjoy doing outdoors and I can start to involve them in ways that interests them the most. A lovely moment during term is when we sit down together and hand out patches and ambassador awards. Its good to celebrate members achievments as a group and look forward ourselves to what we can achieve by being a part of the club no matter how big or small. 

Holiday Clubs

My holiday club hangout is Hove Park and St Ann's Well Garden.  I'm a resident of Hove so I encourage children, young people and adults alike to regularly enjoy the local green spaces and woodland we have on our doorstep.   I often lead the holiday clubs in the parks with the exception of a day or two in the office to plan and prepare for more upcoming adventures. I'll be the first one there to set up and last one to leave once all the kids have gone home. The buzz of all the kids arriving for an adventure day out in the park is awesome and its great to spend a full day with our regular members as well as introduce new ones to the flock! I really love running the holiday clubs because you really do see the children benefit from a full day in a natural space. Instantly their stress levels reduce, they play, socialise, laugh, try new things and take the time to enjoy and notice nature. The days are all different from relaxing, craft based adventures to energetic gameplay and I like that the group experiences these along with all the benefits and challenges that can come with them.  The days aren't always sunny and that's okay! We all just pull our waterproofs on and have fun no matter the weather. I feel its really important to encourage children to play outdoors in all weather and feel achievement from doing so, naturally building resilience which goes a long way to being able to cope with challenges life throws at us! 

Activities

Joel and I put our heads together each term and design the programs for the clubs. Our aim is to create a program kids will find interesting, fun, achievable and also simple enough that we enjoy the benefits of being outdoors together, without too much emphasis put on equipment or learning objectives. It's no easy task as there are a lot of factors to think about such as the seasonal weather, equipment, transport, group sizes, ability, age but its a great part of the job! Planning what we know the kids will love such as campfire cooking, NERF, water days, air toys, craft projects, energetic games to trialing new activities and introducing them to the kids and staff is all part of the excitement. We're always on the search for new and fun activities to show our members. 

Staff Training 

Joel and myself run regular staff training days as well as ongoing staff training and development. We have a lot of young people come and volunteer with us to gain work experience so I'll manage their training program too. Safety for our members is at the heart of everything we do, so we work together to assess and manage the risk of our sites and activities. I'm also the deputy designated lead for safeguarding for the company. 

THE VAN

You might have seen our green & black Outdoors Project van driving around town! That's usually me driving it, dropping off equipment or heading to a club so feel free to wave! 

 

 

My Journey Here

I'm constantly saying "I wish I had an Outdoors Project when I was young!", not JUST because I work here but because it is true! I was very lucky and my parents always made the effort to take me outdoors when they could. Sailing our boat to the Isle of Wight fishing and waterskiing, days down the beach or walking in the Southdowns. I was a shy child and gained a lot from those experiences which went towards my self esteem and self confidence growing up. My dad worked away 6 months of the year and we lived in the city of Portsmouth, so it wasn't always possible to regularly get outdoors and play because of increased traffic, stranger danger and percieved fear of the unknown. So having an outdoors club which my parents knew I was safe, playing outdoors with friends and in school or a local park I would have signed up immediately! Part of the reason I'm so passionate about The Outdoors Projects message and carrying this forth to younger generations!

From the years of about 14 to 19 I lost my connection slightly with the outdoors in favour my xbox and socialising with friends, a natural occurance in most teens but also a loss as well. It was in university after a particularly challenging first year I joined the rock climbing club and rediscovered my love for the outdoors and all its wellbeing benefits that came with it! That combined with volunteering at a local childrens residential charity I discovered I wanted to involve young people in outdoors pursuits. This took me to the USA to teach rope sports (climbing, high ropes, zip line etc) and bushcraft in the summers, to the French Alps skiing in the winters for a few years. After deciding it was time to return to the UK I was lucky enough to be invited to work with Sam & Joel as assistant manager at their inspiring club here. That's where I've been ever since and I love it! 

Since then I've started my Forest School Level 3 training, I voluteer at a local scout group and continue to develop my experience and knowledge of all things outdoors and working with children. 

Where you'll find me outside of The Outdoors Project 

Usually riding my mountain bike in the downs, out on my paddle board on Hove seafront, sea swimming, excercising in the local gym or out on an explore!