This summer 12 young people spent a fantastic four days completing a John Muir Discovery Award at the Scaladale Activity Centre in Harris.
The John Muir Award has four aims and looks to help people: Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share with the environment around them.
The aim of the residential session was to achieve this through taking part in lots of exciting adventurous activities which included Gorge Scrambling, Coasteering, Beach Trips and Conservation Work.
The young people had a variety of ideas of what they thought the trip would entail.
This varied from “a relief from being bored in the summer holidays and being dragged away from their computer”, to “having the opportunity to learn more about the world around them through taking part in outdoor activities.”
They all wanted the opportunity to do lots of exciting things outside, whilst also learning more about the island and the place in which they live.
The environmental ethos of the award was delivered directly through a wide range of Outdoor Activities.
There was also a conservation afternoon digging out the rhizomes and seed balls of the invasive plant species Gunnera.
This was a chance for the young people do something to help their environment and have a lot of fun “destroying the aliens!”
Some of the most interesting facts that the participants remembered were: that Dog Whelks can bore through the shells of other creatures to eat the creature inside, that Gunnera takes up space and soil nutrients so that other plants can’t grow, and that 40 per cent of Eagle Eggs that hatch do not survive.
These facts were found out through research and questions that the young people asked during the residential, inspired by what they saw in Harris.
Just a small selection of the animals spotted during the session were : Sea and Golden Eagles, Common Seals, Sea Lice, a Kestrel, seagulls fighting over crabs, starfish and diving Gannets.
Being asked what the most memorable moment of the trip was led to some funny answers.
One of the young people will always remember “being lost in a kelp forest,” whilst another “loved being able to lean into the wind without falling over.”
It says a lot about the weather conditions the group experienced that another young person’s most memorable moment was “seeing a sand-nado.”
They did however manage to get out and about extensively in Harris with “swimming in waves, and abseiling for the first time” being other notable moments from the trip.
The young people would like to thank all the staff who made the trip possible, and also Cashback for Communities who funded the entire residential.
This article written by Sean Ziehm-Stephen, using transcript of a conversation between 12 young people at the end of their four day John Muir Award Residential at the Scaladale Activity Centre, funded by Cashback for Communities.