Ben volunteered with Lattitude in 2016/17 as an Outdoor Activity Instructor in New Zealand.
He has shared with us his amazing volunteering experience and why you should apply to go to New Zealand!
Where did you go and what did you do?
I volunteered at the YMCA Wainui Park on the banks peninsula, just outside Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. I went to be a volunteer outdoor activity instructor which involved teaching a plethora of activities to children and corporate groups including High Ropes, Kayaking, Coasteering, Archery, Orienteering etc. On top of this, bi-weekly I was tasked with ‘hosting’ a group which meant I was responsible for ensuring all their needs were met during their stay.
What skills have you gained?
The first set of skills I have gained is the technical skills associated with instructing the activities at the centre. From learning how to correctly set-up the entire high ropes course alone to performing water rescues for both kayaking and coasteering, my placement was able to teach me a number of brand new technical skills. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, it has taught me to be even more independent than I was before and has helped me gain a greater understanding of how to work with children in a number of different outdoor settings.
What did you enjoy about this experience?
I loved meeting all the other volunteers from around the world. At Wainui at any one time there was a core group of 10-12 volunteers from New Zealand, North America and Europe. I really enjoyed being able to explore New Zealand and truly appreciate how beautiful the country is. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel to Fiji, Vietnam and Australia while I was on my placement and there are countless memories from those trips that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
How has your placement impacted on your future plans/career?
I have since returned to University to complete my final year at the University of Bath studying Sport and Social Science. My placement has given me a thirst to want to travel and volunteer around the world – so much so that I have just been accepted onto a programme to teach English and PE in a primary school in Zambia! It has also reaffirmed the notion that I want to work with children in some capacity once I have finished my studies here in Bath.
What advice would you give to future volunteers?
Do not be afraid to try absolutely anything, the time you are on placement will go by so quickly and it is really important to not waste a second of it. You will become best friends with all the people you volunteer with so the sooner you come out of your shell and start interacting with everyone you meet, the better!