Climbing Out - Taking the Modern Day Girl Completely out of Her Comfort Zone

It’s Monday morning, the standard early visit to the gym has been completed and I am now at home cramming numerous ‘loaned’ items of clothing (yes, I’ve raided my mum’s wardrobe) into as few bags as possible, in preparation for my week away with Climbing Out. I’ve agreed to take a week out of the office to go on a new adventure, leaving my fellow colleagues in our Court of Protection team behind. The intended objective of my adventure is to be able to share my experience first-hand with our clients.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors. I love putting on my trail shoes and hiking up hills, but this week is not about just that, it’s proper outdoor activities such as rock climbing, caving, kayaking, abseiling and hiking. I think we probably all agree that there are two types of people; those who are happy to say no to things and don’t mind upsetting people, and those who feel they need to say yes to everything to keep people happy - I am the latter. I agree to things all the time and as the event draws closer, I think, “Jade, what have you done? Just learn to say no!”

I do the obligatory clean and tidy of the house, have a last lie on my bed (boy, am I going to miss my bed), pack numerous bags, shoes and outdoorsy items into the car and hit the road.

78 miles later and two playlists down, I arrive at Dukes Barn, Derbyshire. I can see the Climbing Out car, so know I have the correct place, which is definitely a positive! The first thing I do is take a picture of LB Bear with the Climbing Out car - at least I can go back to work with one picture.

On arrival I am greeted by three dogs and Kelda Wood, founder and programme lead of Climbing Out.

What is Climbling Out?

Climbing Out runs five day, fully funded residential activity programmes for young people aged 16-30 who have experienced life-changing injuries, illnesses or trauma. There is a separate programme for the over thirties. These five day programmes aim to build confidence and self esteem. Climbing Out offers a number of programmes tailored for specific disabilities. The week I attend is mental health week.

Kelda introduces herself and gives me a short guided tour around Dukes Barn before taking me to my room. It takes a couple of trips back and forth from the car to unload all my belongings and then I make my way to the canteen where I meet Louis Hatchwell - Captain of the GB Ski Team! I can’t believe I am mixing with famous people, first Kelda and now Louis! It’s fine, I play it cool!

Next I meet Sam, Kelda’s colleague, who is absolutely lovely. A few have already arrived and are sitting chatting, music blaring. This is definitely not my type of music, with references to “duck duck goose”” By the end of the week however, I have learned to like it, and much to my shock I download it and have it on repeat in the car on my journey home! This song definitely brings back fond memories and makes me smile when I hear it.

We venture to the meeting room, a relaxed space with comfortable chairs, sofas and bean bags. Kelda introduces herself to the group, giving us a rough idea of what the week will entail (divulging very little about the activities!) and then we all go outside into the sunshine to do some team-building exercises! Now I class myself as quite sociable, but I must admit I am dreading this bit! Making a fool out of myself in front of 14 people I don’t know is not my idea of fun! But the exercises are actually good fun and, by the end of the afternoon, have the desired effect with us all getting on like a house on fire! We meet back inside and the evening activities are discussed…we are off caving!

By the end of our caving experience we have created a facebook group and are getting on as if we have known each other for years!

Dukes Barn and the Climbing Out “Energiser”

Nothing is too much trouble for the staff at Dukes Barn. Breakfast is served, where you can pretty much ask for anything from fruit and yoghurt to a full English! Every morning we have a table full of bread rolls, bread, fillings, crisps, homemade cakes and fruit to make ourselves a packed lunch ready for the day ahead. We then venture outside for our “energiser” (exercises to wake us all up and prepare us for the day ahead)!

Kelda informs us about the activities for the day ahead with worksheets. The activities for the week include caving, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, hiking, indoor zip wire, rope assault course and, on the last night, a campfire.

Every evening we have a home-cooked meal, ranging from a roast dinner or jacket potatoes with various fillings to a curry or a barbeque! With a number of delicious dessert options too!

So, what did I think of my week with Climbing Out

I absolutely loved it! There were parts of the week, for example standing at the top of a big drop and waiting to abseil down, where I seriously questioned what I was doing. I even asked the instructor, Dan, if he could hold my weight and to promise he wouldn’t drop me! All these thoughts seem ridiculous now. Of course he wasn’t going to drop me and if he didn’t think he could hold my weight he would never have let me abseil! But at the time when your heart is in your mouth and all you want to do is run away, daft things come to mind.

I met some of the most amazing and inspirational people. Each attendee had their own story and by the end of it we were like a little family. Throughout the week you experience every type of emotion. You encourage people, you stand by their side and talk to them when they are at their most vulnerable, and you are there to celebrate with them when they manage to overcome challenges. It was incredible and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to get involved.

I made some great friends, including Kelda. Kelda is amazing. Her story of how she got to where she is, is full of humour, but complete determination. She works hard to make Climbing Out a success. She wants to help young people overcome hurdles and to achieve what they want to achieve. She continues to support all those who have attended programmes by having a Climbing Out club facebook page. Everyone shares stories, achievements, goals and inspirational thoughts. Even though you haven’t met the majority of people in the group, they are there to support you. That on its own proves what an inspiration Kelda and the Climbing Out team are, from support workers to instructors to all the staff at Dukes Barn and the impact they have on people is phenomenal.

I have since signed up to attempt the Yorkshire Three Peaks on the 21 September. This is a charity hike in aid of Climbing Out. Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so via the JustGiving link here: https://www.justgiving.com/ClimbingOut