A teenager is set for a career in outdoor education thanks to experience he has gained at Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre.
Josh Rowlands became Ardwhallan’s first trainee instructor (TI) when the post was piloted by the Youth Service’s Adventure Education section last September.
Now the Ballasalla 18-year-old is preparing to leave the Island to study for a degree in outdoor leadership at Cumbria University.
Josh’s links with Ardwhallan stretch back five years to when he joined its kayak club in 2007, so he was an ideal choice to be the first holder of the full-time TI position, aimed at young people with a keen interest in the outdoors who wish to gain experience and develop coaching skills.
Along with four other young people, Josh had already participated in Ardwhallan’s first ever assistant instructor (AI) scheme, introduced to give a group of young volunteers a year’s experience working in outdoor education during their spare time.
Participants moved on to university and jobs at the end of their year but Josh stayed on as an AI for a second year while studying for A-levels at the Isle of Man College.
The full-time TI post was a natural progression for someone ‘bubbling with enthusiasm for the outdoors’, explained Jenny Lantry, Outdoor Education Worker at Ardwhallan.
Josh said: ‘Even though I had finished my A levels I was not ready to leave the Isle of Man. I had been discussing with Paul Melling, Head of Outdoor Centres, the option of taking a gap year but then this great opportunity arose to be a trainee instructor.
‘I knew I wanted to stay in outdoor education but I wanted to make sure I would be giving back to the community and not taking away from it.’
The TI post was funded by the Golden Jubilee Trust and the Ardwhallan Jubilee Trust.
Josh’s responsibilities at Ardwhallan have included maintaining and improving facilities (implementing a recycling programme was just one of his projects). He helped select and train this year’s AIs and has worked with visiting school and youth clubs and at specialist clubs.
During the year, Josh has gained National Governing Body qualifications including British Canoe Union Level 1 Paddlesports Coach, Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Sailing Assistant Instructor, RYA Safety Boat Driver.
Josh said: ‘Ardwhallan and the people who work there have given so much to me, encouraged me and allowed me to grow as a person. This last year has allowed me to experience my dream job. The only problem now is how do I improve on it?’
The pilot TI scheme that Josh has undertaken has gone so well that Adventure Education is looking into repeating it from September, funding permitting.
Jenny said: ‘Just by talking to Josh for a short time you can tell that Ardwhallan has had a massive influence on him. It has enabled him to access the outdoors, has allowed his passion for adventure to blossom and has given him the opportunity to help others experience the opportunities in the outdoors that he has had.’
Ardwhallan hosts tailor-made sessions for primary and secondary schools and runs on and off-Island courses and expeditions for students in Year 9 and above. A full list of what’s on offer is available via www.ardwhallan.im or via the facebook group Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre. Jenny can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.