Apprentices rafting

The annual trip to Elan Valley has become an integral part of Alpha’s Apprenticeship programme with all 1st year Apprentices attending ahead of their workplace training.

The three day course began with basics of team work and communication and gradually allowed the Apprentices to develop in their teams , solving increasingly challenging tasks.

Day one

An early start saw the team leave the Bri-Stor Head Offices at around 6.00am, arriving in Wales just before 10.00am where they were welcomed by course leaders and given their brief for the day.

The day consisted of a series of communication focussed tasks designed to focus the group on the strengths of individual members and importance to the team as a whole.

The first challenge of the day was a test of team communication where a ball needed to be passed between members in the quickest possible time. From a slow initial attempt, the team were asked to focus on every individual’s role within the team and how better communication could improve performance.

A range of team challenges followed, from building the tallest tower out of bamboo poles, to creating a perfect square and various orienteering tasks, all carefully constructed to test the communication and team working of the teams. After each challenge the Apprentices where given time to reflect on how better communication and joined up thinking allowed them to progressively improve their performance.

The day concluded with an in-depth review of the days activities and course leaders delivered some classroom theory to back up the practical work that the teams had throughout the day.

Day two

The second day tested the teams further, building on the previous day’s progress and pushing them to achieve much more difficult goals by working together in an organised and thoughtful way.

A high rope challenge required individual team members to navigate a tree top course while receiving instruction from others on the ground. Communication was vital in passing on collective team knowledge on the best way to tackle tricky obstacles.

The challenge finished with a leap of faith where team members on the ground provided advice and encouragement to their partners for them to leap from a high platform.

Next up was a raft race across the Elan Valley Damn on rafts built by the teams. Using collective thinking and solid communication, the teams worked out a sound raft design and method of travelling in the water. A short de brief followed where the teams reflected on their successes and areas of improvement.

Again, the day concluded with an evening of theory delivered by course leaders where the Apprentices learned the importance of individual team roles, delegation and responsibility. They were asked to apply this to the days activities and reflect on how they might have streamlined processes.

Day three

The third and final day focused on planning and executing a solution to a specific problem. Teams were given a set of instruction on how to complete a task before being allowed time to discuss and agree an approach to best solve the problem. After the first challenge of the day the teams reviewed their individual strategies and discussed where they could have made improvements.

Course leaders then gave the teams 9 individual challenges to complete by the end of the day and allowed them 3 hours to put together an effective plan to complete each. The teams then set about completing the hill walk, a nail puzzle, flag/logo quiz, tower build, forest orienteering, team juggle, maze ball, mountain bike trail and archery challenges, following their agreed plans.

One final evening session saw the Apprentices review the entire course and the skills they had learned throughout, specifically communication, planning and leadership, efficiency and effective planning. The course concluded with the Apprentices being asked to consider how all of these elements contribute to their success in the working environment.

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