A day at Gortatole T:BUC Camp with CEO, Sara Long

We were delighted to welcome the Education Authority CEO, Sara Long, to Gortatole to visit our T:BUC camp. Head of Local Services, Lynsey Branniff, Senior Youth Officer for Fermanagh & Omagh, Ryan McGee and Operations Manager for Gortatole, Damian Gribbin met with Sara to discuss the benefits of residentials to young people and the importance of getting into the outdoors and tackling new challenges.

Young people from across various rural towns in Fermanagh came together for a 5 day camp at Gortatole Outdoor Learning Centre, taking part in many activities including caving, canoeing, rock climbing and evening campfires. 

The camp was delivered by EA Youth Service youth workers from the local area who devised the theme for camp which was “TBUC Tribe”. The group were split into different tribes, each having a tribe leader. Throughout the week the young people are battling for points for their tribe with the winning team leader being appointed Tribe Chief at the end of the camp. Points are being awarded to those who have completed various chores, helping their peers during activities and completing challenges set by the leaders.

On our visit, we watched the group canoe out on the lough and there was discussions around how outdoor learning is crucial in building confidence and using outdoor challenges as a metaphor for life challenges and overcoming fears.  Sean, the group’s youth worker, explained the various challenges facing the young people and how they have grown over the week. 

For many, this was their first time camping outdoors, aren’t they lucky to have such a great week to try it out! 

Next up, we visited the high ropes course, where a number of girls were overcoming their fears and taking the plunge down a rather high zip line.  Sara got the chance to talk with some of the younger members on their experience so far, what they’ve found difficult and the challenges they have overcome so far. We got the chance to cheer a few of them off the ledge and watch their confidence grow as they flew through the trees.

Finally, we got to attend the group work session and listen to the young people’s viewpoints on global and local issues, their differences and what unites them.  There was a fantastic discussion around women in sports and equal pay for women and it was great to hear the young people debate around the topic. 

The group have created a fantastic bond, many of whom didn’t know each other prior to the trip and they all expressed how sad they are to be heading home at the end of the 5 day camp! 

Thank you to the team at Gortatole for hosting us all and a special thank you to Sara for travelling down to spend the day with us, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

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