In early June twelve learners from The College of North East London (CONEL) spent a weekend well out of their comfort zone, facing tough physical and mental challenges in the wilds of North Wales, culminating in reaching the summit of Mount Snowdon.

Tackling a fear of heights by embarking on a tarzan swing 60ft off the ground, or whizzing on a zip wire may sound odd, but this group are all studying for careers where tough challenges are par for the course. These first year BTEC National Diploma learners are aspiring to careers in the ‘uniformed services’ (the military or emergency services such as police, fire or ambulance) or the sports industry. All demand high levels of physical fitness and the ability to meet new challenges with confidence.

Neil Templeman, a Public Services Lecturer at CONEL and a veteran of seven previous climbs up Snowdon said of the trip “The whole purpose is to take the learners out of their comfort zone. We need to prepare them so they know how to deal with those tough situations. And I have to say they did brilliantly.”

For some of the learners, a few of whom had never been out of North London, the weekend was full of surprises, not least of which was the beauty of the view from the summit of Snowdon. Staying in a ‘bunkhouse’ (a cottage for walkers) was also an eye-opener for different reasons. No TV, computers or mobile phone access, and with the nearest shop an hour’s walk away, the conveniences of urban living seemed like a distant memory.

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