The C Neil Sharp Award

Posted on 08th Dec 2021 in Outdoor Education, The Mary Erskine School

Winning the C Neil Sharp Award, by Gabriella C (S6)

Every year a senior pupil from ESMS is given an incredible opportunity to apply for The Charles Neil Sharp Award, a prestigious outdoor education award. Last year, I was lucky enough to be chosen for this Award which took me on a journey to Wales, to spend two weeks participating in outdoor activities and sleeping under the stars.  

Going away on the course made me realise that balancing enjoyment and work is vital. I found that giving myself the time to relax and look after my mental health made me all the better at being able to focus and revise. However, the course also allowed me to make some decisions about my future – when I returned, I was even more sure that I wanted to study Medicine at university. I learned that I am absolutely a ‘people person,’ and I found that making friends and meeting new people was a very fulfilling aspect of the course. As well as this, working in a group also gave me the opportunity to learn how to communicate with many different types of people. Two people in our group had ADHD, and one had autism, so they had pretty diverse needs. We worked together to come up with solutions so that everyone had these needs met, and I found it really insightful to learn about the differences in the way that everybody in our group communicated.            

One skill I really developed during my time there was the ability to take charge within a group. Generally, I am quite a shy and reserved person in a crowd, so at the beginning of the course I struggled to lead activities or make my opinions heard. Throughout the two weeks I spent in Aberdovey, this really changed. On our final expedition, I led a large section of a hill walk: navigating and choosing a route. It felt like a big accomplishment to say that I was responsible for getting us all down the mountain and doing it improved my confidence greatly.  

I discovered new interests during my time spent in Aberdovey, such as climbing. I had never done rock climbing before but we completed a climb and two abseils. I really enjoyed it, which I didn’t expect at all. In fact, I thought that I would find it terrifying! I am so glad that I decided to try something new, after all, Outward Bound is all about pushing your limits and throwing yourself into new experiences. My favourite parts of the course were the expeditions – it felt so freeing and exciting to live with only what we had in our backpacks to sustain us for three days. 

Overall, I had a wonderful time. If I could relive it over again, I definitely would! It is a fantastic opportunity which offers so many benefits.  I would really encourage other pupils to apply this year.  All you need to do is keep an eye out for the School Post and then write a letter of application to the trustees. 

Gabriella C (S6)

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