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I dropped out of sixth form and didn't know what to do...

Maya graduated from Mendip's Outdoor Instructor Training course in March 2023! We caught up with her to find out some more about her time on the course...

Mendip: Hey Maya, thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us why you ended up on our outdoor instructor training course?

Maya: Hello! I dropped out of sixth form as I was having trouble with my mental health and I didn’t really know what to do. Then, lockdown happened. I converted a van, got more involved in Girlguiding and became qualified as a cyclability instructor. But I was still looking for the next step...

a climber climbing up some rock in the peak district

I love being outdoors and having adventures but I also love working with young people so when I came across

the Instructor Training course it really caught my eye. It seemed like the perfect mix. I had always been subconsciously pushed towards academic routes as I was considered ’smart’ but I wish I had looked into outdoor instructor training sooner!

Mendip: We're pleased that you decided to apply to the course, we loved having you! What was life like on the course?

Maya: Life on the course was amazing, I loved waking up knowing I would spend all day outside doing things I loved. There is never a dull moment- even minibus rides turn into karaoke sessions!

You are spending every day with people who are becoming some of your best friends in amazing places doing amazing things.

Mendip: You said there were no dull moments. Do you have any standout moments?

Maya: It was the little moments which made the course like when we all did something silly or someone fell over on the ski slope! But I think one of my stand out moments was on the last day of our paddlesport leader assessment week: we were all knackered after a long week in strong winds. But it was really rewarding. The sun came out, the wind dropped and we all rafted together, made a group shelter into a spontaneous sail and started singing. The group unity was what everyone needed.

Paddleboard and kayak on a river

I also thought the Peak District trip was great- spending everyday climbing was amazing and what better place to do so on some proper peak grit. It offered a very different climbing environment to what we had been climbing on previously. We had one absolutely amazing day when the sun came out, it was warm and I was sat around in my fleece choosing my next route and I remember thinking ‘this is exactly what I want to spend my life doing’.

Mendip: That sounds like an amazing experience.

Maya: Yes! I thought that the trips and expeditions were some of the best parts of the course. My favourite was the Lake District trip. We stayed in an amazing place and it allowed us to get to know each other and the instructors better.

Mendip: What about skiing?

Maya: It would be rude not to mention the ski trip, what an amazing way to finish to an amazing four months. Putting into practice everything we had been learning on the dry slope and generally celebrating each others success.

A person skiing in the mountains

Mendip: It sounds like your time on the course was pretty jam-packed! What was it like living in Mendip Lodge alongside all the other course participants?

Maya: I loved living at the Lodge (apart from the hill you have to walk up from the main centre!) Living together really allowed us to bond. We would spend evenings playing video games, watching films, going climbing and skiing. We really were one big (if slightly dysfunctional) family by the end of the course.

Mendip: And I bet it was great to be fully catered?

Maya: Yes, it was great coming back everyday and there being cake from the amazing people in the kitchen and then being served dinner each evening. Living on site meant that you really were living and breathing the course for those four months and j think I got more from it because of that.

Mendip: What are your plans now you’ve finished the course?

Maya: I was offered a job with Mendip, however, I already had lots of summer plans. I have some freelance work- at Mendip and elsewhere and I will be instructing Bikeability. I also have a summer full of volunteering at Girlguiding camps around the UK and in California! I hope that come Autumn I will have time to keep working on more qualifications.

Mendip: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Maya. See you soon!

Group of people walking in Lake District for mountain training hill walking


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