Inside Guide by our Staff
This is the Inside Guide to working at Manor Adventure. Below you will find some staff profiles, written by our Activity Instructors, telling you who we are and what we do. Read the best bits about the job, and about why no two working days are ever the same. They will also tell you what it is like to work a typical week with us, and about their recent end of season trip to Aberporth.
We are now recruiting for the 2013 season. We welcome applicants with or without experience. All we need from you is energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to work hard to maintain our very high standards.
Home Town: Wincanton
Previous Employment: Assistant Transport Manager
Time at Manor: July 2011
Qualifications before Manor Adventure: Level 1 Canoe Coach, ML (Training)
Qualifications gained at Manor Adventure: GNAS, NSRA, British Fencing, 2* Kayak, 2* Canoe, UKCC Level 1
My Job: Multi Activity Instructor/Stores.
My Aspirations: To gain my ML and further my career in the outdoor industry.
Typical Day: Morning meeting at 08:30 am then head down to stores, set up for sessions and then run my own sessions and do safety checks with the stores team.
Best Memories: Working with the client base and spending days off in the mountains with friends and pushing my personal knowledge forwards.
Why work for Manor Adventure: Because it is a great place to start a career in the outdoors because you gain so many NGB’s.
Home Town: Worcester
Previous Employment: Sainsbury's
Time at Manor: January 2012
Qualifications before Manor Adventure: GCSEs, A-Levels, Lifeguard
Qualifications gained at Manor Adventure: GNAS, Fencing, First Aid
My Job: My job involves delivering quality outdoor sessions to participants on a daily basis and working within the staff team to keep everything running smoothly.
My Aspirations: In the near future I plan to join the RAF as an Aircrew Officer, using leadership skills and experience gained at Manor Adventure.
Typical Day: My day normally begins with morning meeting at 08:30am where we discuss the day ahead. First session will start at 09:00am and so starts another day of outdoor teaching until 08:30pm where we pack away, debrief and head off to sleep to recharge for another day.
Best Memories: My fondest memory is receiving my uniform for the first time and feeling like a real part of Manor Adventure and the staff team.
Why work for Manor Adventure: I joined Manor Adventure to further fuel my love of the outdoors and secondly to develop my leadership skills to help me achieve my aim of joining the RAF.
Home Town: Nr Crewe
Previous Employment: Youth Worker and Teaching Assistant
Time at Manor: January 2012
Qualifications before Manor Adventure: BSc (Hons) in Psychology
Qualifications gained at Manor Adventure: Fencing, Rifles
My Job: Instructor.
My Aspirations: To run a company that teaches traditional school subjects in an outdoor setting.
Typical Day: The working day begins at 8:30 am when we have our morning briefing. Sessions begin at 9:00am. There are five sessions a day; two before lunch, two after lunch and one after tea. Sessions finish at 8:30pm. It’s a long day but you are always having fun so it never feels like it. Days here are so varied, you could be teaching kayaking one session and high ropes or maze the next. No day is ever the same as the last.
Best Memories: It’s difficult to pick specific moments but things that stay with you are the funny comments that children make and the look on their faces when they’re enjoying your session. You spend so much time with all the staff you quickly generate personal jokes and memories that make you laugh.
Why work for Manor Adventure: For the opportunity to work outdoors everyday. The children we work with are always enthusiastic and it’s rewarding to know we’re giving them life changing experiences they may never forget. On top of that you’re working, living and socialising with great people and many friends for life. There are also opportunities to gain qualifications to help you further your career in the outdoor industry.
Home Town: Lancaster
Previous Employment: Ladbrokes and Lancashire Army Cadet Force
Time at Manor: January 2011
Qualifications before Manor Adventure: First Aid, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Qualifications gained at Manor Adventure: GNAS, NSRA, EF, Fire Marshall, First Aid, 2* Canoe and Kayak, FSRT (Foundation Safety and Rescue Test), Level 1 Coach in Paddlesport
My Job: Multi Senior Instructor.
My Aspirations: As I have already gained so many qualifications in my first year, in my second year I want to further improve the skills and knowledge that I already have. I want to use my experience to teach and develop the new instructors and also to ensure that each child that visits our centre has an enjoyable and memorable experience. My long term aspirations are to get more mountain experience and start my ML training in the next few years.
Typical Day: One great thing about my job is that no two days are the same! A normal day runs 08:30-20:30 hrs. Each morning we have a meeting to discuss the days events and then prepare our first session ready for first groups at 09:00. We run five activity sessions per day and always have a varied day of different activities. Each Senior Instructor has a team of eight or nine instructors so on a day-to-day basis ensure my team are happy and working well. I also deal with any questions, queries or problems they, or any of the other instructors may have.
Best Memories: Too many to mention! My two favourite memories are staff training in North Wales which consisted of a two day expedition and one night wild camp and also spending six weeks working in our centre in France doing my senior training!
Why work for Manor Adventure: In the last year I have met lots of amazing people and made some friends for life. I have gained a lot more confidence and developed as an instructor. Manor Adventure are a great professional company to work for and are really supportive of personal development.
My Typical Week
Senior Instructor week
Being part of the senior team, the week starts with teacher arrivals. When the school arrives at the Manor they are greeted initially by a Senior Instructor. The Instructors assist with helping the children to their rooms whilst the Senior Instructor speaks to the teachers, showing them to their rooms and taking them on a site tour, where they are shown around Manor Adventure.
During the week a Senior Instructor can be expected to take five sessions a day just like the Instructors. The more activities you are assessed on the more variety you get each day, so my days can be a mixture; I could be packing my bag ready for the hill walk up the Long Mynd, or getting my wetsuit on for the pond for kayaking and canoeing. I could be getting my dancing shoes on for the funky, fast moving, disco, or taking a trip to the underground maze with the old school traditional caving equipment, where we go in search of Nedwina the Olympic ballerina. Will she ever be rescued from the Welsh goblins?
A Senior Instructor works along side the Chief Instructor and Centre Manager to ensure everything on site is running well. Helping the Chief Instructor with daily staffing can be a time consuming task. I help with assessing sessions like Blind Trail, Zip Wire, etc.
As a Senior Instructor internal verifications need to be done on each Instructor every month, this is to help us as a company to maintain our high standards. For each of the activities we do there are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) that need to be followed. So before an Instructor is allowed to run a session they go through extensive training, this would be done by a member of the Senior Instructor team.
During my week I would also be on duty, this is where I take the role of the Duty Manager (DM), on an average day I would be handing out site work to all staff working that day. If it's really busy then I would walk around site speaking to teachers and ask how their stay has been. No day is ever the same, sometimes they find me if they have any issues, which then get solved in record time, keeping teachers happy matters just as much as the children. Sometimes sessions will have to be swapped by request from teachers, which would be dealt with by the DM, when you are DM there could be a hundred issues to deal with, like fire alarms, first aid issues, lending out the company car to a teacher. Then there are meal times; at meal times I manage the queue, and oversee the smooth running of the DIs (Duty Instructors).
Activity Instructor week
Weeks at Manor Adventure go so fast. The weekly staffing is posted in the staff room and before you know it the end of the week is swiftly approaching. I am still surprised at how the months have flown by.
So far my time here at Manor Adventure has been very enjoyable. There is no such thing as an average week. The number of groups we have in determines how many sessions you will have, and sessions are the reason I work here. A good session, one where you feel the kids have had a great time and really enjoyed the activity gives you such a buzz that you feel as if you could do it all over again for them. A great session is almost the equivalent of a good night's sleep, re-energized and ready to go. Bring it on.
One of the first steps in a week at Manor Adventure is the morning meeting at 8:30. Here you learn about the plans for the day, what is going on, who might be coming to see the site, whether or not to pester Jay for that Holiday leave in a week's time. Pretty much kicks off the day, and gets everyone ready for the day ahead.
First session starts at 9 am, and from the staff notice board you learn which session you have, which group and group numbers. Meeting them at the number lines, on the tennis court, you count numbers, check you have all of them and that they have all the kit that they are going to need. Once that is all good it's onto the session.
I.Es. I love I.Es. I.Es stands for Initiative Exercises, but I always tell the kids its actually Intellectual Examinations. You should see the look on their faces! Then I tell them that I'm joking, just before they get too worried! I.Es are basically a load of tasks that the group has to complete on or around various obstacles around site by communicating with each other and working out the solutions. I start with a story about how their Manor Adventure cruise ship was sailing in the Caribbean Sea. On this cruise ship they were doing all the activities that they do here like rock climbing, abseiling, fencing and I throw in a random one like ice skating. Just because it would be so much fun!
However, their cruise ship has been hit by an iceberg. In the Caribbean Sea. Figure that one out! And they have to get to the life boats, however someone has let the lifeboats go early and they have to get from the cruise ship to the life boat by using the friendly sea turtles (a.k.a carpet tiles). They can't step in the water because of great tiger sharks, and they have to keep in contact with the friendly sea turtles otherwise they grow irate at being used as stepping stones and swim off. Also the group should keep their eyes peeled for giant mythological creatures that may poise a water hazard to their chances of survival.
I.Es are great. However much energy you put into a session is how much you get coming back at you doubled from the kids, and that goes for the vast majority of the other sessions too.
As I said the days fly by, before you know it you are half way through the 3rd session and it feels like the day is just rushing around you. Each group you have is different, and you have to appreciate that when you assess your group on the number lines. Having a different group each time means that you can start afresh with them, try a new approach, but it's always good when by random occurrence you get paired up with a group that you had on a previous session. Especially if that session you had with group previously, went really well.
Basically there are so many activities that you can do here that you can have a blast teaching the kids, and it is so rewarding to see a child conquer their fears, start to work as part of a team, or simply become a stronger friend with their mates as they see each other in a different light, and appreciate them more for it.
It's going great, here's to hoping it continues.
Activity Instructor week
I really enjoy working at Manor Adventure. It is hard work, tiring and frustrating at times, but even on the worst of days when I'm stuck outside in the pouring rain (or hail on more than one occasion!) I would still rather be working here than anywhere else. It is in the middle of the countryside so there are fantastic views all around. The site itself is huge and the people are great. From day one I was made to feel really welcome and was invited out to the local pub (The Stokesay - about 10 minutes away in the back of Rocket Ron's cab). No kids on site so nearly everyone came along and with 37 instructors working here we pretty much took over the lounge area. One round in and I knew these were my kind of people!
First full day and my training started. Having worked a variety of office based jobs since University my experience of the outdoor industry boiled down to a school trip in Wales when I was 14, a few White Water rafting trips and owning a North Face fleece! Everything was completely new to me but luckily I wasn't the only one who had been in this position and my fellow instructors were patient and kind. After taking up nearly two full sessions getting the hang of some basic knots the only thing was to practice, practice, practice and have a go at everything.
The following day got off to a surprising start when I was asked to jump off a rope bridge and dangle around in a harness 18 feet up in the air so others could practice rescues on the high ropes. Next I got covered in mud on the obstacle course and spent a good hour crawling around the underground maze. This was all before lunch. After lunch we had three schools coming in, so I was paired up with someone to observe arrivals and the tour of the site given to each group. After arrivals I had Wide Games; this is basically a whole session of running around with kids playing all the games you used to play at school - and I get paid for this!
Another day, another session I can't believe I get paid for; Hill Walk. This is a double session of strolling through truly beautiful English countryside 10 minutes up the road. There is a beautiful waterfall, picturesque rolling fields and a stream running almost the entire length of the path we use. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I took my mum there on my day off.
Back into work and straight after morning meeting I was assessed and signed off in Climb and Obstacle Course. I came off that session absolutely buzzing and absolutely certain that I made the right choice in coming here.
Activity Instructor week
A typical week (if there can be such a thing!) begins on a Monday afternoon with the arrival of the schools. The afternoon starts with an arrivals meeting' – this is an important meeting we have usually an hour before a school arrives. All the Instructors are told how many children and teachers will be arriving, where they will be staying and any medical conditions they have that we may need to be aware of. Once the meeting is over, we all head to the relevant accommodation blocks to clean them ready for the schools. This doesn't take long with everyone chipping in and soon there is an announcement over the radios that a school has arrived.
Greeting a school off the coach is awesome – all the children are excited and you are the first people to introduce then to Manor Adventure! It's always exciting meeting the school because you'll be working with these children all week and each group of children differs in their personalities, abilities, etc. You take them on a tour of the site telling them all the things they'll need to know to have a brilliant week and take them to their rooms. It's during the tour etc that you get a glimpse into how the week is going to go with this particular school. After the tour, they go straight into their first activity. There are no more than twelve children to each activity group, and each instructor checks the information about that particular group on the notice board in the staff room before taking a session.
Each morning before activities start there is a staff meeting. This is a chance for the management team to pass on any important messages/information and also to give feedback and review how the week is going so far. After the meeting it's off to set up for your first session. The instructors meet the groups at nine am. There is a break after every activity, fortunately, which gives everybody chance to de-prep their sessions, set up for their next ones, and if you're lucky, grab a quick coffee!
As the week goes on, the staff become familiar with the different groups of children. Learning the names of large groups of children gets easier each week! If it's really busy there can be 5 schools in, all with different programmes, all doing different activities. The range of activities here is awesome – great for the kids but also great as an instructor – you could have a day spent entirely in trees on the high ropes course and then spend the next day doing problem solving and team building activities, which are great for the children to build upon qualities of sharing, working together and developing ways of communicating. It's sometimes hard, especially during a busy period to remember what an important role you play as an instructor. The school groups spend a week doing things they may never have done or even seen before and when you're instructing gives them the confidence and courage to do it; it boosts your own confidence too.
The last activity finishes at 8:30pm, and it's time to relax! The children head to their dorms where they are now the teacher's responsibility and we head to our staff accommodation. There's a lot to do after work. An early night with a DVD is always a hit! But there are more active things to do! The other night after work I did a bit of fencing with one of the kitchen assistants! And of course there is the local pub – a chance for all the instructors to let their hair down for a night.
Sooner than you know, it's Friday. The school's last day. The groups you have worked with the most often run round with pieces of paper and pens for you to give autographs! At one-thirty it's time for another arrivals meeting – there will be more schools in over the weekend. Once again, we proceed to the cleaning cupboard to give the dorms a good scrub. During the cleaning, the children from the week are boarding their coach and we stop cleaning for five minutes to wave them off. This bit can sometimes be a little emotional – they'll never forget you and the things they've done during the week. But there isn't a lot of time to reflect – as the coach leaves the site and we head back, mop in hand, there is a radio call; The schools have arrived!– new groups, new week, new challenges and new rewards for everyone.
Aberporth Training Week
On the 25th of August, at 7:15 am, the majority of staff piled into the Manor Adventure Land Rovers set for a three hour journey to the South West coast of Wales for some outdoor camping fun! The 'staff training' week had been organised by management as a chance to 'work hard play hard' and let our hair down for all the hard work we had done during the year. Having paid just thirty pounds each, we were given tents and any other equipment that we may need for the kayaking, walking and power boating activities during the week.
At around lunch time, we arrived at Nant-y-Croi camp site with bags of enthusiasm (and roll mats) ready to set up (and take over!) the camp site. Two hours and twenty three tents later, our new home for the week was ready. Brew time. All the food etc was from the centre and our appointed chef was the legendary Al Jones. Catering for over twenty five staff (one an awkward vegetarian) with a small camping stove must have been challenging but he kept his cool and we all ate well that evening!
Rise and shine was at eight and after breakfast we were put into small groups and I was on the kayak and power boat list for that day - woo hoo! The weather wasn't particularly pleasant but that didn't stop us – six layers of clothing and a ten minute journey later, we arrived at a local boat yard where Mark (Head Of Centre) parked the boat and trailer full of Kayaks.
The morning was brilliant as I had never kayaked in the sea before. We started off at an estuary and then went and parked our boats on the beach. We were partnered up and Mark taught us how to kayak surf! (This was the highlight of the trip for me – never before (or since!) have I capsized my boat four times in three minutes! After lunch we went out in small groups on the powerboat – that was ace!
We got back at the camp site in time for dinner and a nice warm shower. After dinner, there was enough time before bed for a few beverages and a chance to talk to the other group about their walking trip they had done while we were at sea.
Rise and shine was earlier than the previous morning - by 8am, we were almost ready to depart for our walk. The weather was a little better and before long, ten of us were navigating our way through various farms and fields to end up on a lovely coastal to end up at a place called Mwnt. That afternoon we met up with the others at the beach and found the 'inner child' in ourselves playing in the waves and making sand castles! Dinnertime back at camp and another night of camp fire fun! (But no camp fire – instead, the more practical, tilley lamps!)
Waking to the smell of sausages and the cheerful sound of the chef's singing, today we were informed that we would be meeting up at Aberporth beach with the staff from Abernant, the Welsh centre.
Great news as my roommate had recently been transferred there so I would get to see her again! The morning was cold and rainy, so everyone went for wetsuits and lots of layers! Almost immediately after arriving at the beautiful beach of Aberporth, out came the sun! Woo!!! This day was a day filled with sun, sea and sand. There were Kayaks and spray decks sprawled along the beach, people sunbathing and gossiping, people swimming and some in giant rubber rings and dingys! Once more, Captain Mark offered his services and did lots of power boat runs for those who hadn't yet experienced it. It was a brilliant day, but soon it ended and we said good bye to the Abernant staff. Our staff training week was almost over, and after an eventful three days, we decided we would go out for dinner and drinks. Our stores manger kindly offered to be the designated driver and after giving the tracksuits and hoodies a swap for more 'out of the manor bubble' appropriate attire, we were driven to an attractive restaurant/bar in Cardigan. We ate lots and drank lots and slept VERY well that night.
Departure day! Waking up early was normal, but not greatly appreciated this morning! Given about half an hour to pack a messy tent was a task and a half! Never the less, it got done and soon we were climbing into the land Rovers and saying goodbye to Wales!
We arrived back at the manor full of sandy helmets, spraydecks, tents and tales to tell those that had stayed behind.
It was a brilliant week and great to be in the company of familiar colleagues, without work! A lot of people learnt and experienced things that had never done before during that week and it was a time I'm sure no one will forget in a hurry.