Youth Zone at Home: OnSide’s response to Covid-19
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The group converged at Wigan Youth Zone by 10.30am ready, packed and fully geared.
The journey to the airport took approximately 40 minutes, with an exciting minibus journey filled with singing and the attempt of taking photos in the ever so steady minibus. Reflecting on the purpose of the trip, we are grateful to John Roberts for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Giving the group a chance to learn from one another and to build confidence as well as team building skills.
On arrival to Switzerland, all knackered by the flight, we collected our luggage and were welcomed with warm smiles by instructors from the Loisirs Assis Evasion, who then drove us to Combloux, France. The most interesting part of the coach journey to the accommodation was listening to the gasps and mixed emotions about the temperature drop as we drove up the mountain.
As expected, all hungry and knackered, we ate, assigned rooms, made our beds and then hit the hat all ready for an interesting first ski day the next day. Highlights for the group was travelling together and sharing the excitement for the next week on nothing but snow.. and skiing.
I felt really pumped after the adrenaline of tandem skiing and after our last day of skiing, it was sad to say goodbye to the instructors and I hope to come back again and enjoy this experience all over again.
Jade Tomlinson, Mahdlo Youth Zone
Well, waking up at 6.30am was an absolute set challenge which everyone took surprisingly well. Breakfast was set for 7.30am for us to be completely ready for 8:45 am to head further up the mountain to collect ski boots, Baton de ski, and skis.
Upon arrival, the magic was the view but the challenge was getting to our feet and learning how to ski. From afar it quite easily looks like a piece of cake, until you get there but that didn’t stop this team of enthusiastic go-getters.
Learning how to glide, reduce speed and stop was the challenge but once we had the hang of it, we were given passes to the ski lifts. The idea was to get the hang of slowing down, controlling and having a good time before given the keys to ski freedom. The interesting part of the scenery was the groups of toddlers looking like pros on their skis but that didn’t discourage the group from getting the hang of things.
Apart from the cold temperatures which we didn’t even notice due to the journey up and down the learning slope a couple of a hundred times, the group seemed to have made a good start to learning and adopting the spirit of not giving up. However, we simply couldn’t wait for break time to rest our legs from the weights we were carrying on our feet.
Today was packed filled with nothing much skiing. Having learned the basics yesterday, we were able to take what we have learned to the bigger and wider slopes. One this we learned was the different stages and types of slopes which was labeled by colour.
Black: Difficult (So definitely you are a pro)
Meet our pro, Reece. Who is aiming to ski down the Black slopes by the end of the trip.
The group has generally learned how to bond well better and take heed to information. So this is how our day started. Waking up the usual time, 6:45am with aches and pains in parts of our bodies we definitely don’t want hurting, but we had to crack on because how else would we get rid of the pain other than keep on moving? In a group of both skiers and tandem skiers, we all made our way towards the send slopes to learn how to take full control of our turns and slowing down. Once the group got the hang of things, bit by bit we were all able to go up to the summit together. The most phenomenal and breathtaking part of the day, however, was the view from the top as well as the feeling of actually accomplishing our set targets from the previous day.
The second half of the day, the instructors urged the majority of the group who had qualified to go up with the ski lifts and ski back down the blue and green slopes. One of our major goals was to reduce the number of times we fell over in the snow and reduce the amount of snow we ate on our way down. It is safe to say that we were able to reduce that number and improve our skiing tactics.
At the end of the day, we all converged in our common room and discussed what our highlights were and what goals we had accomplished. Four certificates went out to Taylor, Imogen, Jack, and Callum for their achievements during the day. We then discussed what goals we hope to achieve the next day and all agreed that we were to reach the top of the slopes and make our way done in one piece without falling.
I attempted the Snow Cart and I must say, it was stressful but good because you had to manoeuvre to where you wanted to go but it was good and the Tandem Skiing was great, I enjoyed it very much, especially the views. – Billy Brown, The Hive Youth Zone (Wirral)
A few challenges some people had was building upon confidence but it was great because the group are ever so encouraging and we encourage one another to keep on going and not giving up. Billy had a go at the snow cart which he found quite stressful but super fun and enjoyed himself.
Going into day four felt like a breeze considering we’ve become used to it as well as the fact that we were ready to properly hit the slopes with all that we have learned from yesterday.
On arrival to the slopes, we geared up and with the instructors’ confidence we all hit the slopes together by making our way up the hill on the ski lifts in order to descend via. the blue slopes. Again, the view was absolutely amazing, being able to see Mont Blanc, as well as ski in the clouds, is an absolute experience. Control and concentration were two major things we all as a group had to keep in mind whilst making our way down the slope and of course, there is that fear of falling down and landing on our faces but this time around, everyone did absolutely great and the number of casualties was of the bare minimum.
After lunch the instructors had surprised us with a trip to the ice rink to ice skate for the afternoon, this definitely made everyone happy because the boots were much lighter! The outdoor ice rink is situated just above the little town in Megeve and so we spent the afternoon ice skating and eaten Crepes and Nutella for three euros each, totally worth it because they are heavenly!
The group as a whole definitely enjoyed skating and just enjoying the sunshine considering the week is almost coming to an end. We reflected on how the week is going too far and we are all pleased with how far we have come and how much we have accomplished as a group, trying things we have never done before and becoming pros in it!
After ice skating, we had a little walk through the little town in Megeve, doing a bit of window shopping and spotting out the super expensive ski jackets. The town is very small and beautiful with the brick laid floor and French architecture as well as the phenomenal background of Mont Blanc and surrounding mountains, almost looking like a wallpaper (nope, it’s definitely real!).
Later in the evening, we were invited down by the director of the school in which we were staying at to have a taste of their Apple juice (don’t worry it’s not wine tasting), and their apple juice is spot on! We then used this little gathering to reflect on the trip with the instructors and staff on how the week was going and learning a bit of French whilst we were at it.
As we look forward to tomorrow as our last chance of making the most of the day before we head back to England, we aim to ski on those slopes, hit our targets and simply be happy for this opportunity because it was completely worth it and as a group, we have learned a lot! Achievements this evening went to the whole group for our progression and tremendous improvement from the first day of skiing up until now.
Bring on Tomorrow!
What a week it has been for all of us. So much learnt and so much enjoyed. As we journeyed up the mountain one last time to ski as well as enjoy ourselves, we reflected on what our highlights have been and what we have learnt as a group and it is inspiring to see what each and every one of us have gained over the last few days.
Today we all went up to the summit to ski down the blue slopes just to piece together everything we have learnt and put it into practice. Before heading down, we admired the view from the top and that feeling that we had made it and skiing back down felt like a breeze.
I felt really pumped after the adrenaline of tandem skiing and after our last day of skiing, it was sad to say goodbye to the instructors and I hope to come back again and enjoy this experience all over again. – Jade Tomlinson, Mahdlo Youth Zone
The first half of the day was made up of just skiing and making our way up to the summit and back down again, twice. The eagerness of the group to keep on going was amazing and we simply didn’t want to stop going. We spent this half just enjoying ourselves and taking in all the breathtaking views and the wind in our faces. About midday, we made our way back to our accommodation for lunch and to catch a breather before making our way back to enjoy the last half of the day.
Despite the spitting cold of -10 degrees, we all still wanted to make it back up the top of the ski mountain and breeze back down and finally everyone had a go at the tandem skiing (which again is the best part).
As the day drew to a close, we all gave our appreciation to the instructors for all their hard work and patience with us newbies at skiing and most definitely we will miss them as the bond we had with them was great as well as the interesting way they said our names with their French accents. All in all, we felt that this trip was worth it and are eternally grateful to John and Sally Roberts for funding this trip and making dreams come true.
Later in the evening we all converged in the common room to hand out final certificates and celebrate our highlights and all that we had learnt and achieved during the week. Most people spoke about how this trip built our communication and leadership skills as well as team building and confidence. The group expressed their gratitude and how they will definitely consider try this experience out again in the future. Not forgetting the fact that we will most definitely teach our future children how to ski from 16 months! Because the pros that we saw who are only four years old!!
We concluded the day by discussing important issues that affect our lives in this day and age such as global warming, politics, history, religion, discrimination and many other pressing subjects. This demonstrated how well the group has bonded and how close we have become. However the group are looking forward to head back to England to kebabs, McDonalds and our beds!