Today, we’re bringing you the second in a series of Q&A’s with our Venture Scotland Ambassadors. VS Ambassador, Bryan, reflects on some of the highs and lows of his Journey, and, like Jo, has some pearls of wisdom to share with our current and future Young People!
How did you find out about the Venture Scotland programme and when did you join?
My Community Psychiatric Nurse mentioned the programme to me and I thought it might help as I hadn’t been getting out of the house much, to say the least. I joined the programme in May 2017.
Did you have any fears before joining the programme?
General nerves not about anything in particular, I don’t think. Though I wasn’t confident meeting people and nervous about not really knowing what the programme would entail.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting the programme?
The Journey programme is great and gives people the opportunity to learn and do so much. It’s not a magic cure and you have to want to make a change. It’ll definitely be worth it if you put the effort in, though be prepared for it not all to be plain sailing as there are difficult times.
Which part of the programme did you find the most challenging and why?
Thinking introspectively – the reviews, particularly at the end of the day at the bothy were always difficult. Trying to explain how I was feeling and remember how I felt earlier while exhausted and brain not working at its peak.
What is your favourite memory of your time on the programme?
It’s difficult for me to choose just one favourite memory as I had many fun experiences that I would not have had the chance to do otherwise. Coasteering on a beautiful day with clear view of the horizon or practicing the speech I would give at my awards night probably takes the award. Coasteering was my favourite activity. It helps that this reminds me how far I’ve come since the start of the programme, as it took a while for me to be so comfortable and confident jumping off a cliff into the sea, but I now find it exhilarating.
What advice would you give to someone who was worried about the programme being based outdoors?
The outdoors will make you feel great even if you don’t think so right now. Getting out and being one with nature is wonderful for one’s peace of mind. For the occasions when the weather is less than kind, Venture Scotland provide good quality gear to negate the worst of it and there will be others there to help, including awesome staff. Venture Scotland has almost a motto: “Challenge by Choice” which means even though you will be encouraged to do something you will never be forced. One of the main points of VS is that a person has to want to be there. You can try and if it’s not right for you that’s fine, though I don’t know anyone who regretted it.
What are the staff & volunteers like at VS?
The staff and volunteers I’ve met have all been great. They are caring people who only want the best outcomes for the people who join the programme. They always have time to listen and help when they can.
Since finishing the course, where have the skills and experience you learnt at VS taken you?
Venture Scotland helped me to gain the skills to lead a more fulfilling life, instead of just getting by as I had been before I joined the Journey programme. These skills have helped me, not just to become an Ambassador for this wonderful charity where I can make a difference while giving back, but have enabled me to recognise and appreciate my own achievements. The experiences have given me a new perspective into how amazing nature and the outdoors can be and the positive effect it has on mental health. This helped so much during Covid as I am lucky enough to live in a place with green spaces and could get out locally.
What is one thing you learnt at VS that will stick with you forever?
This was quite a difficult one to decide upon as I learned so much during my time with VS, in particular my emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Other things include the fact that I didn’t know what some of the activities were before I joined VS, including coasteering and weaseling. However, the thing that I’ve decided to go for, as it’s a very useful lesson for everyone and I won’t forget it, is that things change and it’s important to be prepared and adaptable. Sometimes things will not go according to plan, and one must be prepared and willing to accept that sometimes things will change that are outside of our control. This could be as simple as preparing for a sudden unexpected change in weather (we are in Scotland!) or not being able to do a canoe expedition because the lake(s) are frozen and/or its too windy (still in Scotland!) As with all lessons that VS teaches, it translates directly into the real world and I wish someone had taught me this earlier in life.