Our Students: Rowan from West Cumbria

Rowan

In the spotlight today is Rowan Morgan who started his Outdoor Adventure Level 3 Extended Diploma course in September 2016. Rowan is one of our students who takes advantage of the Residential Bursary, which enables him to rent a flat in Kendal so he can study at the College.


AM: Cockermouth is a long way from Kendal – how are you able to study here?
RM: After leaving 6th form, I took quite a while to choose this particular course, which I found suited me really well. However the issue was how make the journey to and from college every day, as I was living over 50 miles away at the time. The distance was the biggest drawback and I felt quite disheartened as a result. I began commuting on a motorbike, but it became extremely time consuming and tiring, thus affecting my learning. I then spoke to Student Services and discovered the Residential Support Scheme; I am genuinely thankful to them as I was able to obtain a bursary to rent my own flat in Kendal which was a lifesaver! Living independently in Kendal has been totally stress free and has enabled me to grow and find my own way. Kendal College may not feel like a viable option to many students from Northern Cumbria or elsewhere in the country but with such fantastic support, it can be done stress-free. I would recommend it to anyone!

AM: Why did you choose this course?
RM: Outdoor sport is something that has always been a key factor in my life; I love not only the sporting aspects, but also the spirit of adventure and personal development that runs parallel. The course gives me lots of practical opportunities for building on teamwork as well as individual leadership and an academic qualification to enable me to progress onto university.

AM: Why did you choose Kendal College?
RM: The College is virtually university standard in the professionalism of the tutors and staff, and the attitudes towards learning. I spent a year in sixth form and the environment here is a great deal more mature in its outlook on education. You can feel more like an adult, in control of your own learning, which is so valuable when progressing through the education system. Sixth form could be quite demeaning in its outlook, the way students are treated here and the practical opportunities on offer are unmatched by other routes to higher education.

Minibus

AM: Is College like you had expected. If not, why?
RM: I was expecting it to be quite lax and indifferent. On the contrary, the tutoring is both professional and informal – in the sense that you can be trusted to take charge of your own learning and make your own decisions while on the course. The course requires the completion of most assignments out of college time and this really aids you in organising your independent learning and improves time management skills greatly. It prepares you for the future, for university and a workplace environment.

AM: What opportunities have you had as a student at the College?
RM: Earlier this year we went to Scotland for a week-long trip away. We summited Ben Nevis, and took several fantastic kayak journeys, including the exciting Triple Step falls on the River Etive! We are currently fundraising for a trip to Morocco next year. The tutor has mostly left the fundraising for the trip in our hands. It is a big responsibility, but I believe we can feel like we have earned it through raising the money ourselves, rather than a member of staff taking charge. The goal is to raise half of the total cost of the expedition, making it far more feasible for all students to access. On the trip, we hope to ascend Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa at 4167m, along with two other peaks. We will also spend a couple of days in the city of Marrakesh – aiming to immerse ourselves in the colourful local culture, in order to incorporate the spirit of exploration and development into the experience.

Summit

Our Outdoor Adventure tutor, Josh Litten, has to be one of the most competent and qualified sports leaders I have had the pleasure of knowing.  He has a massive amount of practical experience in all fields of outdoor adventure, and immense knowledge of the subject, so we can always rely on him in any practical situation to provide the highest level of support and guidance. Through Josh, we’ve been able to gain a number of additional qualifications in outdoor sport, such as the 2 star kayaking award.
I have also been on a very rewarding work placement to High Borrans Outdoor Education Centre near Windermere. I undertook a number of responsibilities as a trainee instructor, leading activities for primary school groups such as canoeing and caving. I took an active part in the day-to-day routine of the centre as well, which gave me a real insight into the workings of a high-standard outdoor education centre.

AM: What is the teaching style like on your course?
RM: The teaching at college is very interactive; you’ll be kept busy through presentations, discussions and group work/projects. You’re always encouraged to share your ideas and thoughts with the others in your class, to further understanding of the subject via second opinions and finding new ways of looking at things.
We undertake around 3-4 units/subjects at a time and there are about 4 assignments per unit. It’s never overwhelming; it’s definitely achievable and surprisingly enjoyable! Being able to go away and learn via independent research is extremely interesting and great when it comes to preparing for university. Recently, for our ‘Principles of Outdoor Adventure’ module, we had to research prominent figures in the outdoor industry – e.g. Robert Baden Powell, Kurt Hahn. For me, it soon became a personal project as well as a college one. Finding out how the work of these individuals had shaped the outdoor adventure industry we know today … it didn’t feel like work at all, it was inspiring and enjoyable, and further motivated me to pursue a career in outdoor adventure.

AM: Can you describe a typical day at college?
RM: We have lessons over 3 days a week, 2 days are theory and one day is practical. Students travel from all over the area so it’s better to have the lessons condensed into just those 3 days, so we can work at home on our assignments and have free time on the other 4 days of the week.

We have one full day practical every week. We all meet in the morning for a quick discussion, head to the equipment store to load up the kit and by 9.30 we’re on our way for the day’s adventure. You’ll be responsible for your own kit, but we all work together to get everything done on time. People would pay up to £100 or even more for a good day’s outdoor activity in the Lake District – we do it every week and it’s free!! I’m able to obtain a qualification doing something I really love, and it doesn’t get much better than that …

Kayak

Each term we focus on a different activity. It was kayaking in the first term, fell walking & hiking in the second looking at mountain leadership skills, and now we have moved onto rock climbing for the summer term. The theory sessions are perfectly complementary to the practical ones. This course gives you the practical experience in outdoor sport but you also get an academic qualification that covers subjects like anatomy and physiology, sports nutrition, and much more. You’ll cover all things you need to know to progress in that industry and that you can apply to your day-to-day work later in life.

At sixth form we were naturally studying for 5 days a week but after a year I realised that more isn’t always better. Teenagers can feel overloaded and may have many other things in life they want or need to do e.g. part-time work, other courses and qualifications, starting up a business or simply enjoying life. This course allows you more leeway for other experiences, giving you the time to absorb the information correctly and in your own time, so you can process and learn on your own terms.

AM: What are you hoping to do after College?
RM: University is my current plan – something along the lines of Sports Sience or Physiotherapy. However, I really love the outdoors and may still come back to a career in it later in life. The great thing about this course is that it keeps my options open and enables me to move forward into a whole variety of opportunities. There is the flexibility to make my own informed decisions about where I want to go in life.

Canoe

It’s a very large misconception that taking one specific course would limit your options, as it’s the total opposite! You’re learning about working in an industry and can apply the skills you learn in college to any walk of life. I currently work at Go Ape in Grizedale, I started in March 2017 and my experience and knowledge from my course definitely helped me during my interview. I could demonstrate numerous leadership abilities, and show how best to communicate effectively with customers, both skills required in the workplace that college had previously helped me to refine.

AM: What facilities do you use regularly at the College?
RM: We use Office 365, WordPress blogs and the library resources. The outdoor sport kit store is amazing. We have plenty of good quality kayaks and canoes, and a full trailer set up to take them wherever we go! There is a lot of spare equipment for students so there is no pressure to buy kit yourself, everything you need for practical activities is readily available!

AM: If you could give one piece of advice to people considering college, what would it be?
RM: Just give it a go; it’s not something you’ll regret!

Quick Fire Questions!
Canoeing or Kayaking?
Kayaking – it’s much more adrenaline fuelled!
White water racing or freestyling? White water racing – anything fast paced is right up my street.
Rock climbing or fell walking? Rock climbing – I love the physical challenge of tricky outdoor ascents.
Most memorable moment on the course? My first big(ish) waterfall when kayaking in Scotland. It was immensely exhilarating… I did the entire thing with a massive smile on my face.
Most surprising moment on the course? Caving – I thought I’d hate the confined spaces but actually quite liked it in the end. It’s an entirely different world down there … When doing so much sport, food is really important … so …
Pasta or potatoes? Pasta every time!
Favourite pasta dish? Nothing can beat Spaghetti Bolognese, ever.


If you think Kendal College is too far away … it might not be! Talk to out Student Services Team on 01539 814700 or Email enquiries@kendal.ac.uk.

If Rowan has prompted an interest in Outdoor Adventure @ Kendal College, we offer a fantastic range of courses. Start your future on our website.


The interview was conducted by Adele Mundy, the College’s Student Services Manager.


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