Volunteer Blog

The power of the outdoors to transform people's lives by Jack Reed, VS volunteer

Venture Scotland first came onto my radar when I discovered that I could complete my placement for my master’s degree in outdoor education with them. I had wanted to be in an organisation that was harnessing the power of the outdoors to transform people’s lives. This is exactly what Venture Scotland does.

I have long been a believer that experiences in nature offer the chance to deeply understand the self, a chance to be removed from the constraints of society, a chance for expression. During my time with Venture Scotland I have seen all of this before my very eyes; whether it be coasteering, gorge walking, hiking and everything else in-between, activities in nature seem to possess all the fundamentals required for transformative individual experiences.

It has been an absolute privilege to witness this first-hand whilst helping facilitate these types of experiences. This has been most evident during my time working with a group that have just completed the Venture Scotland programme. Having been with them during their final stage of the course, it was clear just how important the Venture Scotland experience had been and to have been a small part of that was very rewarding.

As a volunteer it isn’t all about the activities, sometimes the conversations leave lasting memories. Often, it isn’t even about a reciprocal conversation, listening to what these young people have to say about their experiences, their pasts and their futures is the most inspiring part of volunteering. Personally, I have not been involved in a set of activities where you can be perched on the side of a mountain, talking to a young person about their hopes and fears – there is little that can be more important.

Picking a favourite memory amongst all of this is a challenge. Whether it be falling off a raft the group had made before it was even in the water or lapping in the tranquillity of canoeing on the Union Canal, each day spent with Venture Scotland is a pleasure. Often people ask, “what is it like to volunteer with Venture Scotland”, my answer is often hard to find. How can words ever capture the power and influence Venture Scotland has had on me and the young people they work with?