Eleanor Craik is an NDCS Volunteer. In this second instalment of her two-part blog, she tells us about how volunteering takes her to the edge
This year, I went to Litchfield for another jam-packed adventure week. Armed with more BSL knowledge than I’ve ever had before more confidence and assurance having worked with children for the past two years.
I absolutely loved it.
Meeting new volunteers soon perked me up and made me feel welcome. There were so many lovely volunteers that I hadn’t met before at Lichfield and I soon felt at home. When the children arrived it was manic, 36 children to supervise! We all settled into the week routine rather quickly. I had 12 children in my particular group and we also had the lovely Wish who was a communicator. Together we made THE best group.
During the week I was ambushed (sorry, should that be supported..) into doing the high zipwire after promising a young boy who was terrified that I’d do it if he did. Of course he would do it (and loved it!). There’s nothing like being between a rock and a hard place and I was well and truly.
Residentials are hard work. They are long days, as you’re expected to wake the children up (and be ready yourself before then), support them throughout the day, even when their energy continues at 100% right the way till bedtime. Then, at bedtime, they need to be going to sleep. The amount of silly little things that crop up at 10.30pm, from nightlights to noise – the child that seems to get out of bed to complain countless times. All before you can have the team meeting to discuss your day and then at last you can crawl into bed. And I love every minute.
One thing I really, really liked about this NDCS event was that wherever you were, if you were talking to someone and you didn’t quite hear them there would always be a communicator conveniently nearby who would randomly start interpreting them for you. I didn’t realise how much I appreciated that until I got home, sat down with my family and remembered how much concentration it takes to listen, to block out the loud TV blaring away and piece together the conversation topic first before anything else.
At the end of the residential, my team leader asked to chat with me. Initially I didn’t want to; usually chatting with me indicates I’m in trouble, that I’ve done something wrong somewhere down the line. But I bit the bullet and went for it. He had nothing but positive words for me, how I’d matured as a volunteer etc. Honestly, I felt like crying because I’d worked so hard, that I’d still had thoughts every morning when I woke up that I wanted to go home, that my family needed me, that I wanted to sit in a quiet room and listen to Jakob Dylan on loop.
Eleanor works several different jobs caring for disabled children. She likes subtitled films and ranting about any cinema that doesn’t provide them!! You can see her rants and raves on her shared blog with her best friend Imogene: http://a-subtitled-life.blogspot.co.uk/
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