FAQ’s

Young People

Q – Where can I find a packing list?
Q – Where will my programme take place?
Q – Can I sign up to NCS with my friends?
Q – Are mobile phones allowed on NCS?
Q – Do young people need to bring a sleeping bag?
Q – 
What meals are provided?


Where can I find a packing list?

The packing list is included in the NCS Summer / Autumn Guide that we send to young people and their parents/guardians with confirmed places*. We send these out approximately one month before the start of the programme.
If you have not received your NCS Summer / Autumn Guide yet, you can click on the link below to see an online version which includes the packing list.

NCS Summer 2017 Guide
You are allowed to bring one suitcase and one day bag with you. Any additional bags will have to be left behind, so please stay within the luggage limit. Please try to avoid using a large suitcase due to limited luggage space.

Young people should not bring any prohibited items such as alcohol, any illegal drugs, illegal items, penknives or weapons onto NCS. We ask young people to respect these rules as there will be consequences if they are found to be in possession of any of these items.

Please note that we are not able to insure personal belongings. For this reason, we recommend that you do not bring unnecessary expensive items or valuables.

Where will my programme take place?

Each NCS Programme takes place within the UK.
In previous years, young people have travelled to locations such as Scotland, Cumbria, Kent and Wales for Phase 1 of the programme.

Phases 2 and 3 are usually located nearer to the young person’s local area, often within travelling distance from their home or school, but this does vary and young people may be further from home.

We will send out timetables with further information about the exact locations approximately one month before the start date of each programme once all of the venues are confirmed.

Participants will need to travel to a meeting point which is usually within or near to their local area. We will then arrange travel to take young people to any venues that are further away. Young people and their parents or guardians are responsible for organising their travel to the meeting points and from the return points at the times shown on their timetable.

Can I sign up to NCS with my friends?

Young people can sign up with friends, and if they apply for the same date in the same area and select the same Phase 2 skill, they have a good chance of being on the same programme. Once they have both signed up, the young people can contact us asking to be on the same programme or share a room. We will need to know the names of each friend and we will then do our best to take this into consideration. Although we cannot guarantee this, signing up early will increase their chances!
NCS is a great way to meet new people and make new friends! Check our video here.

Many young people find that even though they have been placed on a different team or wave from their friends, the programme lends itself to meeting new people through team building activities and that their senior mentor is a great person to lean on when they are unsure. We only allow a certain number of young people from any one school on each programme, and therefore the programme will be the first time many young people meet one another. Throughout the programme, and particularly at the beginning, there will be many team games and icebreakers to ensure that everyone gets to know the other young people in their team.

In addition, many young people say that one of the best parts of the NCS programme was meeting so many new people and making new friends. Click here to see some of our previous participants’ experiences. We are not able to provide information about which team young people will be placed in, as the teams for each programme are only allocated a couple of days before the programme start date. Young people will find out what team they are in on the first day of the programme.

Please note that the accommodation on NCS is single gender and so we cannot approve room sharing requests for young people of different genders.

Are mobile phones allowed on the NCS programme?

Young people are allowed to bring their mobile phones (and chargers) with them on the NCS programme and will be able to use them when activities are not taking place (using mobile phones during activity time is not allowed). Please note that there may not always be mobile phone reception, especially during Phase 1 which is usually based in the countryside.

All our accommodation comes with the necessary amenities, such as access to power sockets, showers, etc. Regardless of the type of accommodation on their particular programme, participants will have access to power sockets and so should be able to charge their phones. Access can be very limited for tented accommodation.

Please note that we are not able to insure personal belongings so young people who bring their mobile phones do so at their own risk.

Do young people need to bring a sleeping bag?

No, young people do not need to bring a sleeping bag. All our accommodation comes with bedding, including the tented accommodation and yurts. We also provide bedding for the overnight camp that young people take part in during Part 1.

What meals are provided?

All food and drink will be provided during the residential parts of the programme (when young people are staying away from home). You only need to bring a packed lunch for the first day of Phase 1 (and Phase 2 depending on the programmes, please check your timetable).

As long as we are informed about the young person’s needs in advance, we can provide most speciality food for dietary requirements, including halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food, and for various food allergies. Here are examples of meals available during the residential parts. Options will vary:

For summer programmes

Phase 1 (residential):
Please bring a packed lunch for the first day. High-energy food is then provided by the outdoor activity centre.
Breakfast: cereal, cooked breakfast, porridge
Lunch: sandwiches, crisps, fruit
Dinner: hot meal (e.g. pasta, pizza, curry, chilli), salad, dessert

Phase 2 (residential)
Check your timetable to see if you need to bring a packed lunch for the first day. Food is then provided by The Challenge and young people will usually be cooking for themselves as part of their independent living experience.
Breakfast: cereal, toast
Lunch: sandwiches, crisps, fruit
Dinner: selection of hot meals chosen and cooked as a team (e.g. sausages and mashed potato, stir-fry, pizza)

Phase 3 (non-residential)
Please bring your own packed lunch. Food is not provided.

For autumn programmes

Phase 1 (residential)
Please bring a packed lunch for the first day. High-energy food is then provided by the outdoor activity centre.
Breakfast: cereal, cooked breakfast, porridge
Lunch: sandwiches, crisps, fruit
Dinner: hot meal (e.g. pasta, pizza, curry, chilli), salad, dessert

Phases 2 and 3 (activity days, staying at home at night)
Please bring your own packed lunch. Food is not provided.

Parents and Guardians

Q – Where will the young people sleep during residential phases?
Q – What happens at the Information Evening?
Q – How much does it cost to take part in NCS?
Q – Will some young people going on the programme have challenging behaviour?
Q – Who will be responsible for the young people on the ground?
Q – Will taking part in NCS interfere with my teens studies?
Q – How do I get my teen involved?


Where will the young people sleep during the residential phases?

There are a range of accommodation options available during NCS (for example separate dormitory rooms, tents, yurts, and so on), and the specific accommodation will vary by programme. Details of the accommodation and locations for each programme will be sent out to participants approximately one month before the programme start date.

The accommodation is maintained by a vetted outdoor activity centre, university campus or other accommodation provider and there are security features in place there to keep its residents as safe as possible. Male and female participants are separated into single gender accommodation and are not allowed to enter each others’ rooms.

Accommodation comes with the necessary amenities such as access to showers and power sockets. Some accommodation, including bathrooms, may be shared with other young people but it will only be with participants of the same gender.
Although there is no set time that young people need to be asleep, all young people must be in their own accommodation by 10.45pm. We recommend that young people get a good night’s sleep to ensure they fully enjoy the next days activities!

For programmes starting during the summer holidays:
During Phase 1, young people stay at an outdoor activity centre in the countryside. The type of accommodation may vary. It may be dormitories, with an overnight camping trip, but may also be tents or yurts. The details for each programme will be sent out to participants approximately one month before the start date.

During Phase 2, young people will experience independent living by staying away from home and cooking their own meals. Again, accommodation arrangements may vary (for example, it may be university style accommodation or tents or yurts), and details for each programme will be sent out to participants approximately one month before the programme start date. During Phase 3, young people will be staying at home each night.

For programmes starting during half-term:
During Phase 1, young people will stay at an outdoor activity centre in the countryside. The type of accommodation may vary. It could be dormitories, with an overnight camping trip, or it could be yurts (round tents), or tented accommodation. The details for each programme will be sent out to participants approximately one month before the start date. All the necessary amenities, such as showers and power sockets, will be available. During the rest of the programme (Phase 2 and 3), young people will be staying at home each night.


What happens at the Information Evening?

The Information Evening is an opportunity for participants and parents or guardians to gain more information about NCS and to ask any questions they may have about the programme. It is also an opportunity for them to meet other young people that will be participating in the same programme, and their parents or guardians.

We will send you an invite for the Information Evening when the venue is confirmed. It is usually held 2 weeks before the programme starts. We recommend that you attend as previous participants have found it very useful, it’s not compulsory to though. In any case, we will send you a detailed Summer / Autumn guide approximately one month before the programme start date by email or by post, usually depending on the preference selected on the application.


How much does it cost to take part in NCS?

We believe that all eligible 15-17 year olds deserve to take part in NCS and it is great value for money. The Government invests over £1,000 per participant so we can ensure that the programme costs you no more than a £50 administration fee, whether you apply through NCS The Challenge or the NCS Trust. Participants spend time away from home with all activities covered. This includes accommodation, food (when on a residential phase) and equipment.

We often provide special offers for the schools that we visit. If you have any questions regarding financial assistance or payment please contact us.


Will some young people going on the programme have challenging behaviour?

The Challenge aims to support those with challenging behaviour to allow them to take part and get the best out of NCS.
As safety is our main concern, we review each young person’s application, particularly paying attention to the medical and support information provided.

If we are told that a young person has difficulty with following clear rules and boundaries, we will contact the parent or guardian to discuss this. In some cases we will contact schools, professionals or other specialists for more information. We then come to a decision about the young person and how much support they may need on NCS. If needed, we will put extra staff support in place for the young person.

In all cases, we will make relevant staff aware of any challenging behaviour so they can support the young person, and the whole team. We also have a code of conduct. We explain this to young people at the start of the programme and we expect them to follow it. The code of conduct contains some rules about the behaviour we expect on the programme, including safety rules, the law, and respecting and including other people.

If a young person seriously or persistently breaks the code of conduct, staff will assess the situation and decide on the most suitable action. In some cases, we may ask the young person to leave the programme.


Who will be responsible for the young people on the ground?

The safety and well-being of participants is paramount. NCS is delivered across England and Northern Ireland by a network of experiences youth and community organisations including charities, college consortia, volunteering work, community, social enterprise (VCSE) and private sector partnerships. NCS staff are DBS checked (previously CRB) and have the appropriate training to work with young people.

All the activities are comprehensively risk-assessed and overseen by carefully selected trained instructors and mentors and the programme is quality assured locally and nationally.


Will taking part in NCS interfere with my teens academic studies?

No. The NCS summer programme takes place in the summer holidays. Our shorter autumn and spring programmes can take place at any point during the autumn or spring half term holidays.

The NCS summer programme takes place in the summer holidays. Our shorter autumn and spring programmes can take place at any point during the autumn or spring half term holidays.


How do I get my teen involved?

Your teen can register their interest to participate either by using the sign up page on our website or by calling 0114 2999 210 or by e-mailing our NCS manager, Richard at richard.r@element.li

Once registration is complete, we will send you more details about the specific project they have signed up for.

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