After quitting two college courses and an apprenticeship at 17, I didn’t think there was much out there for me. But being that age meant I had to stay in education for a little while longer. I certainly didn’t realise I’d eventually work abroad, finding a job which gave me the freedom to pursue my love of travel.
It all began when a careers adviser sent me to The Prince’s Trust to help me find myself. Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to help, but I had to do it. Thankfully I was wrong.
The Prince’s Trust has a six-week programme called Team to get young people back into work or education.
Read more: Uncover your passion
On the second week, the leaders took us to the New Forest for a week of team building at an activities centre. There was high ropes, bushcraft, canoe trips and so many other wicked activities. I was having the best time but was surprised when the activity instructor leading our course offered me work experience.
That week of work experience told me everything I needed to know – being an outdoor activity instructor might be the coolest job ever.
The New Forest centre didn’t have any jobs going, but they gave me a list of companies that did.
With help from The Prince’s Trust and New Forest instructors, I landed a job with PGL as an activity instructor and group leader.
My first job as an activity instructor
PGL is one of the biggest outdoor education companies in Britain. I joined in January 2017 at its centre in Surrey and was quickly trained in climbing and ropes, raft building, fencing, quad biking, hiking and ground sessions.
I also trained to be a group leader, one of the best parts of the job. When groups of children arrived I would be responsible for making their time at PGL incredible.
I would meet them early every morning, take them to every meal and run evening entertainment like singing, dancing, campfires, discos, and life-sized Cluedo to name a few.
I got to work with Brownie groups, English foreign language students, school groups, special needs groups and summer camp kids.
It was amazing to spend all day every day outside showing kids the wonders of the outdoors, hiking through beautiful forests, guiding them to sail rafts they designed, helping them to face their fears when climbing to new heights, singing and laughing with them creating memories that will last a lifetime.
I worked for PGL until the end of the season in November and it gave me a strong starting foundation in the industry of outdoor education.
PGL was wonderful, but I wanted to travel and was ready to look further afield; I started looking for a summer job in Europe.
An opportunity to work abroad
I applied to a few large companies, had interviews and some really good job offers, and decided that for summer 2018, I would be heading to Ocean Elements Leda resort in Greece.
Ocean Elements is a small sailing and windsurfing company with a few centres dotted around Greece. I spent six months as the Kids Club leader, and it was the best thing I’ve done.
The kids would be dropped to me in the morning, and normally we started the day off with arts and crafts to create a theme for the day (superhero day, pirate day, sea life day etc). Then we would head off for some water sports, sailing, paddle boarding, snorkelling or playing some splash games in the waves of the Mediterranean.
In the afternoon we played mini-golf or tennis, go on adventure walks and find rocks to paint. Then I’d take them on windsurfing taster sessions with one of the instructors or go kayaking around the coastline to the little village of Horto Bay and get ice cream – Kids Club is the best excuse to eat ice cream every day!
The job of a Kids Club leader is very tiring and the days can be long, but there’s nothing like showing children the wonder of water sports.
Perks of the job
Greece was absolutely incredible. We would go exploring every chance we got, riding bikes to nearby towns and finding the best Greek food, such as calamari, halloumi, feta salads and my god GYROS!
We came across the most mind-blowing secret beaches and would go snorkelling, find caves and hike as far as we could. Or if we were having a lazy day take some paddleboards out to a far mooring and lay out in the sun. Not to mention being able to go sailing or windsurfing whenever the kit wasn’t being used by guests.
Every sunset was beautiful and the stars at night were unreal, even the thunder and lightning storms were amazing to watch going across the sea.
Our team of 15 staff loved to get together in the evenings for BBQs and it was a proper family. Everyone supported and looked out for each other.
Whilst living in Horto I also got to travel to Athens and Skopelos (where Mamma Mia was filmed), plus a few other small Greek towns.
Before I got to Greece I had never sailed or windsurfed. In my time there I learned to sail and got a Level 2 RYA dinghy sailing and also a Power Boat Level 2 qualification. Ocean Elements gave me so much and Greece is such a beautiful country. Living there was one of the best experiences of my life.
After a quick two-week trip to Vancouver in Canada, and a little bit of time at home, it was back to the season life.
Finding winter work
Ocean Elements is part of a bigger company called Alpine Elements which has chalets and hotels all over the French Alps, and I was offered a winter job in the town of Morzine.
I was hired as a room assistant for five months in a hotel and ended up being the housekeeping supervisor. We had 25 rooms (70 beds) to look after and worked five days a week.
We cleaned every room and communal areas daily and had a big change over every Sunday when we had to start at 5am. But apart from the early starts, it was a pretty easy job. Only working 35 hours a week meant hours and hours to snowboard!
I have never been to the mountains before, and it was like nothing else. The most breathtaking views, endless amounts of snow and a party atmosphere. It was very different from my Kid Club life, but I couldn’t complain! Living in a big house with all the other hotel staff meant there was never a dull moment.
Onto the next adventure
My next adventure will be working on superyachts as a deckhand around the Mediterranean for the summer. I am training with Flying Fish and then heading over to the south of France to find a job at the end of April.
At the start of 2017, I had started to lose hope in finding what would inspire and motivate me, but now I’ve realised all I needed was me.
The moment I realised that it didn’t matter what I had done in the past, it didn’t matter that I didn’t do well in school, as long as I believed I could do something, I could.
I’ve spent the last two years building a life that I love, and now I’m 21, I am so proud and happy with how far I’ve come. The world is a big place and I plan to cover as much of it as I can, hopefully making other people’s lives better along the way.