BBC Breakfast film crew join the staff and participants of TurnAround Berkshire during a week of challenge and adventure in a remote part of Snowdonia
On Monday 22nd August 2016 our young TurnAround Berkshire participants headed up to north Wales for a week of adventure, challenge, growing independence, character building and personal growth.
The group stayed in an off the grid mountain bunk house in a remote part of Snowdonia where they were self sufficient with food and cooking.
Their first big challenge was a gorge climb up a river concourse that was pumping out white water and foam due to the recent rains. Our guides had evaluated the safety of the exercise well in advance and felt we were all up for it. It was tough, fun and definitely challenging – in some areas needing ropes to climb more tricky rock faces, and otherwise scrambling using all our body strength to move upwards against the sometime almost overwhelming force of the water.
Highlights were climbing through a narrow crack and hole in rocks called the Elephants Behind, and then at the ultimate end of the day being able to swim through a large pool under a massive waterfall, and then find a way to climb in behind the waterfall – and see the world through a fringe of tumbling, crashing water. The group felt the day was more than ten out of ten and had a real sense of achievement at the end. Some of the group could really see how they had almost convinced themselves not to do it due to fear and uncertainty and how much they would have regretted it once they could see how exciting it had been. We had a motto of turning ‘I can’t’ into ‘I can”.
The rest of the trip was climbing up the slopes of Snowdon from our bunkhouse carrying all our kit for two days and one night of sleeping out under the stars. With heavy backpacks we set off, some of the group struggling to cope with the fitness levels needed, the weight of the packs, and ultimately questioning if they could do it.
Working as a close team, we helped and nudged each other up, working on the ways that we can train our brains to think differently about problems, set positive intentions, and be positive. It worked… and we finished a hard tough first day getting into our camp only around 7.45 p.m.
We quickly set up camp, with just a tarp to cover our group for the night. We relished the beauty of sleeping by a wild tarn, emerald green in colour and clear as crystal. We sat together sipping our hot teas whilst the sky turned purple and pink in one of the most dramatic sunsets I have seen in years.
Later that evening we watched two pin pricks of torchlight grow larger as two members of a BBC film crew worked their way down the steep slopes to join us for the filming of the project. Arriving just in time to help us finish supper, we had an evening of chatting and listening to them sharing about their jobs, meeting the group, and setting plans for the next day.
Never having had a film crew with us before, I think we were all apprehensive and a bit nervous but gradually were able to relax and appreciate what an opportunity this was for us all, and that no-one was there to ‘catch us out’ or film us in a bad light for impact. They were lovely people and willing to rough it with us for two days and be part of the group.
Sleep was late, with us all climbing into our sleeping bags after midnight. We lay listening to the roar of water flowing down the mountain, and sounds of the night. Bats flying low were captured in the light of our torches, reminding us that bats and sheep were some of the other living creatures in our little valley and we didn’t have the place all to ourselves.
The film crew were up early to film the sunrise and the rest of us, still in warm sleeping bags tossed and turned as light moved in. Two of us ventured into the freezing tarn waters for an icy, invigorating early swim and we floated on our backs looking up in awe at the high, sheer cliffs hanging over us.
The rest of the day was walking, talking, being filmed, sharing, taking part in symbolic and metaphorical exercises all designed to help the group understand themselves better. We talked about how the past makes us who we are today, that we cannot change it nor know exactly what our future holds, but can manage ourselves in the present and plan and dream a future that would work for us.
Joined by Jane a BBC Breakfast reporter, we all had an emotional day as we struggled down steep slopes with our packs, taking in the beauty of our surroundings each time we stopped to catch our breaths, or to help each other.
We finally got back home, feeling satisfied and proud of our achievements, our learning, our times together in a little human pod of kindness, care and a willingness to find the best in each other. A rare moment. The crew formed part of this and the journey was jointly shared which made it pretty special.
To watch our progress through the journey you can watch the film on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday September 6th on BBC One. We don’t know at what point during the programme it will be shown – but the show is on air between 6 a.m. and 9.15 a.m. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.
For further information about TurnAround please visit www.wildernessfoundation.org.uk/turnaround or call us on our office number 0300 123 3073, or email firstname.lastname@example.org