As a youth charity, An Óige’s mission since 1931 has been to help “all, especially young people, to a love and appreciation of the countryside particularly by providing simple hostel accommodation for them whilst on their travels”. This has not changed for us over the years. We are always looking ways to help young people to experience the outdoors through our hostel network. We believe young people still benefit from this. There are a number of reasons for that…
Young People in the landscape
Young people love the outdoors. They always have. In Ireland we are blessed with the amount of it that we have on our doorstep. Acres and acres of wide open spaces. An Óige understands the importance of enabling young people to learn about Ireland’s landscape and heritage in a direct way. From the Ancient East to the Wild Atlantic Way, every new generation meets our landscape and makes their mark.
Health & Young People
It is no secret that modern life is becoming more sedentary. This lifestyle impacts on the health of young people. Obesity is on the rise worldwide. Mental health and emotional problems are increasing for young people. We live in a world where a long session watching box sets is called a “marathon”. We drive to air conditioned gyms to run on treadmills staring out the window. The nearest some young people get to using their imagination is playing The Sims on a game console. Not that we hate technology, but studies show that a little bit of fresh air and outdoor activity can restore balance. It can give young people a healthier lifestyle. The trick is to make it fun.
Communal Young People
Hostels are all about mixing and getting on with people. It is the sort of experience where people mix in ways that they would not normally outside everyday life. It is all very well acting one way in school but a night in a hostel usually shows a person’s true personality. You eat together, sleep together, wash up together and have the craic together. This is informal learning. Young people learn the sort of soft skills from this that cannot be measured by exams and theory. This does wonders for their knowledge and confidence while the team-building activities improves communication skills.
Active Young People
Activity is about movement, nothing more. Depending on which hostel young people stay in, they get the opportunity to try out activities like kayaking, coaststeering, high ropes, hiking, biking, archery, obstacle courses, orienteering and even sightseeing in Dublin! A lot of the young people have never done this before. It pushes them. It can challenge them. Ireland is currently one of the hotspots for world adventure tourism. We have mountains, rivers, forests, beaches and lots of obstacles that are perfect for kids to test themselves on.
Independent Young People
Ask any parent and they will tell you that young people like to push their boundaries. We all remember what it was like when we first got the chance to get away from our usual routine for an overnight in the Irish countryside. That sense of freedom and independence is new and hostelling provides it in a safe environment with their friends. Many young people are amazed at what they are able to achieve during a trip away. We take great pride in helping them realise their full potential whilst also helping them have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.
For the past ten years we have been running our Give Us A Break project with Provident Financial to give disadvantaged primary schools, after-school groups and youth groups the opportunity to take away their young people for an overnight activity trip. Our project covers accommodation, activities and food. It is perfect for young people who might never have been outside their locality before. 546 young people took part in the project last year. This year we hope to offer this opportunity to 10 groups of between 20 and 30 children. Their are a few possible destinations for the give-us-a-break trips:
- They could be sent to Knockree in Wicklow for activities with EcoAdventure
- Or to Dublin International Hostel for the Croke Park Experience
- They might go hiking and kayaking with Selkie Sailing in Errigal Hostel in county Donegal
- Or maybe they will go to Killarney Hostel in Kerry for the Play-at-Heights and urban farm experience.
If you need anymore details about our Give us a Break project, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org