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 staff training.
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.
|Previous Employment:||Head 4 Heights and Potting Shed Pub|
|Time at Manor:||Since January 2013|
|Previous Qualifications:||ERCA Low and High Ropes, ERCA High Ropes Rescue, First Aid, Fire Marshal.|
|Manor Qualifications:||NUCO - Level 2 in Activity First Aid, NUCO - Public Access Defibrillation, NUCO - Fire Awareness, National Small-bore Rifles Association - Diploma, England Fencing - Fencing Activity Leader, 2* Canoe and Kayak, Foundation Safety and Rescue Test|
|My Job:||Activity Instructor|
|Aspirations:||Next Year I would like to gain my SPA, GNAS, and Level 1 Coach in Paddlesport in order to further my skills and knowledge in the outdoor industry. Eventually I would like to run my own adventure hostel with activities and expeditions.|
|Typical Day:||Wake up and prepare myself for the day. At 08:55hrs we all attend daily morning meeting, have caffeine then from 09:00hrs – 20:30hrs I run 5 activity sessions with the children. At 20:30hrs we finish for the day, have a shower, relax, get off site, and then sleep.|
|Best Memories:||Working with the children from Birmingham Childrens Hospital & Sefton Childens Trust. Once on a Zip Wire session, finally getting a scared child out of the tree on the zip wire (after a very long time) he shouted at me that he hated me. Later that day I was cleaning up at the Woodland Village at Lunchtime when the schools were about to leave, and I got a radio call asking where I was. Next thing the child came up with his teacher and gave me a high 5 and told me that whenever he was scared he would remember that moment and know that he can do anything!|
|Why work here:||Getting children to accomplish things they never thought they could do.|
|Kathryn is now Activities Manager at Culmington Manor.|
|Previous Employment:||Assistant Transport Manager|
|Time at Manor:||Since July 2011|
|Previous Qualifications:||Level 1 Canoe Coach, ML (Training)|
|Manor Qualifications:||GNAS, NSRA, British Fencing, 2* Kayak, 2* Canoe, UKCC Level 1|
|My Job:||Multi Activity Instructor.|
|Aspirations:||To gain my ML and further my career in the outdoor industry.|
|Typical Day:||Morning meeting at 08:55 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 here:||Because it is a great place to start a career in the outdoors because you gain so many NGBs.|
|Ben is now Head of Training.|
|Time at Manor:||Since January 2012|
|Previous Qualifications:||GCSEs, A-Levels, Lifeguard|
|Manor Qualifications:||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.|
|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 08:55am 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 here:||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.|
|Previous Employment:||Ladbrokes and Lancashire Army Cadet Force|
|Time at Manor:||Since January 2011|
|Previous Qualifications:||First Aid, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award|
|Manor Qualifications:||NUCO - Level 2 in Activity First Aid, NUCO - Public Access Defibrillation, NUCO - Fire Awareness, Grand National Archery Society - Leader Award, National Small-bore Rifles Association - Diploma, England Fencing - Fencing Activity Leader, 2* Canoe and Kayak, Foundation Safety and Rescue Test, BCU Level 1 in Coaching Paddlesport|
|My Job:||As a Senior Instructor my role includes, looking after and managing my team of Instructors on a day to day basis, managing the smooth running of the site as Duty Manager, running safe and enjoyable activity sessions, training and assessing Instructors, and carrying out Internal Verifications on the Instructors activity sessions to ensure they are delivering safe and enjoyable sessions.|
|Aspirations:||I want to gain more mountain experience in my spare time to work towards my SPA and MLS. I have worked at Manor Adventure in Shropshire since 2011 and next year for the 2014 season I will be transferring to Chateau Du Broutel, our centre out in Northern France. This will be a great opportunity to travel and explore the French Alps in my spare time.|
|Typical Day:||Every day varies! Some days I run activity sessions all day, other days consist of a mixture of activity sessions and carrying out Senior Instructor Responsibilities, and once or twice a week I will be Duty Manager for the day, in charge of the smooth running of the site. The first activity starts at 09:00hrs so it's straight off to set up the activities before meeting the groups. We run 5 activity sessions per day each being 1 hour 30 minutes long. You always have a varied day and do different activities with different groups. As a Senior Instructor I will be in charge of the running of Hill Walk sessions, Canoe and Kayak taster sessions, and Evening Walks but also run all of the other activities too. When I am not running activities I have other responsibilities, one of many is to do at least one Internal Verification per month on each of the Instructors in my team on different activities to ensure that they are delivering safe and enjoyable sessions and running them according to the Standard Operating Procedures. Other responsibilities include, liaising with groups and teachers, programming the staffing, training and assessing Instructors on activities, safety checks of equipment, and keeping all the staff records up to date. We have 1 hour 20 minutes for Lunch and 2 hours for dinner, where everyone has time to chill out once they have eaten. This time is usually spent in the staff room having really random conversations or watching Simpsons or Hollyoaks! During my Duty Manager shift I am in charge of running the meal queues in the dining room ensuring all the groups get through for meals on time and helping clear up. The last session of the day runs from 19:00hrs - 20:30hrs in which time the staffing for the next day is displayed on the staff notice board. After session finishes everyone gathers around the board to see what exciting activities they have the next day, and arranges any plans for that evening for after work. Every day is different and throws new challenges at you. Always be prepared!|
|Best Memories:||My best memories are Senior Training 2011 in North Wales, Senior Training 2012 in Scotland, and working with children from Birmingham Childrens Hospital and Sefton Childrens Trust and seeing children achieve things they never thought they could.|
|Why work here:||Manor Adventure have a great selection and training process, offer great qualifications and experience and you get the opportunity to meet and work with some great people, some of which have become friends for life. You get the chance to work with groups of all ages from young primary school children, teenagers, to adults. Manor Adventure gives you a great start in your career in the Outdoor Industry.|
|Sarah is now Activities Manager at Norfolk.|
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.
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 8:55. 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.
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.
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.
Instructions were forwarded to potential Senior Instructors prior to the assembly in Lockerbie Manor Scotland. This was the initial phase in what was to be a testing four days onsite and offsite in Lockerbie. The date, the location and times were set for the potential Senior Instructors to be at the Lockerbie Manor. The training package is to be covered over three phases; Phase 1 was to be onsite which included potential Senior Instructors receiving lectures and the delivery of presentations, Phase 2 would be a two day wild expedition in the Moffatt hills, Phase 3 return to site for de-preparation and an inter-group challenge on Obstacle Course.
With Phase 1 completed, the presentations included History, Geology, Flora and Fauna, and Outdoor Pursuits. Overall, an impressive display of confidence, delivery, and the detail in the presentations, with initial nerves set aside, the instructors were split down into two groups, and management appointments were then given to the candidates.
With the expedition phase looming, those in management appointments sprang into action. Tasks were then delegated and the planning and preparation was now in full swing. With all the instructors now geared up and ready to go we headed into the Moffatt hills. The Expedition phase would now look at group management, navigation, camp craft, emergency procedures and route planning. The two-day expedition would prove crucial for the candidates to learn how to motivate, lead and manage safely in a remote wild environment, which they all achieved very well taking into account their differences of abilities. All the candidates achieved at a struggle the challenge and enjoyed it with a certain level of exhaustion as well.
Now with the return to site and expedition over, Phase 3 was now initiated. This consisted of de-preparation of vehicles, equipment, stores, and personal administration. The instructors were then called forward to receive further instructions for the inter-group Obstacle Course challenge; this would be the final test of team spirit, endurance and communication skills.
With all 3 phases completed the instructors had their final debriefs on their overall performance. The grand finale to the Senior Instructor training is a social evening in Lockerbie Manor bar. The following day all the candidates returned to respective Centre locations with a sense of achievement, success and a bit of relief at having completed Senior Instructor training.
All was set for Senior Instructor Training to be different from the previous years. The venue this time was in Wales at the Abernant Lake Hotel. A lot of the emphasis this time was on the Instructors using forward thinking and forward planning to gain a detailed overlook at the duties, the roles, the expectations, and the responsibilities of a Senior Instructor. All the potential Senior Instructors planned their own logistics and transport to get to Abernant, this was a positive start to the training as everyone had made the deadline.
The Senior Instructor Training was conducted in three stages. Stage one was onsite with the company introduction, company presentation, and the expectations of a Senior Instructor, followed by Instructor lectures on chosen subject on the Outdoor Industry. All potential Senior Instructors demonstrated with detailed planning and preparation and the lectures were delivered with confidence, imagination, and thoroughness, all the lectures were educational and well researched which showed in the level of information retained and used in the rest of the training. The evening activities consisted of expedition route planning for the next key stage of the training.
Stage 2 the expedition. Management appointments were nominated then the expedition stage began. This would be monitored, controlled and executed in the local hills surrounding Abernant Lake Hotel. The groups would be closely observed on the following key elements of an expedition; Group administration, group control, group leadership, group management and safety, sound navigation, emergency procedures, and detailed route planning. With the weather forecast in our favour, each instructor took it in turn to do navigation legs and informal talks on the local environment. Day 1 was a success with no navigational errors, the instructors demonstrated sound practice on all the key elements on an expedition. The instructors camped over 600m high and prepared for the next day's tasks. Day 2 of the expedition stage found ourselves covering a lot of ground to get to our next objective which was to camp by a stream junction, all tasks en-route were covered which included emergency procedures, casualty evacuation, group management and control. Once the stream junction was successfully found we got into our camp routine, completed the route plan for the next day's pick up point administrated ourselves and rested for the night before returning to Abernant Lake Hotel to move into stage 3.
Stage 3 was onsite at Abernant Lake Hotel where the instructors ran activity sessions, they also learnt about incident investigations, culminating different scenarios which may occur during the role as a Senior Instructor. Following this the instructors were then back briefed on their overall performance, allowing for constructive criticism and positive feedback. Again another difference from previous Senior Instructor Training courses in that the Instructors had to plan, organise, and budget for an end of course evening meal function at a local restaurant.
David Sutherland Nisbet
Chief Instructor, Culmington Manor, Shropshire
A team of colleagues from Manor Adventure, Culmington based in Shropshire, booked their annual leave and volunteered to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH). Calling themselves Team Alba and swapping their creature comforts for tents, and heavy rucksacks. Their plan was to complete the 96mile West Highland Way, from Glasgow to Fort William covering the 96miles of glorious Scottish wilderness. Walking over 5 days from the 12th August and finishing on the 16th whilst camping en-route. Sutherland Nisbet, who led the expedition, had the volunteers prepared for this challenge by training hard, both locally and in North Wales to ensure their fitness levels were enhanced. Although the Scottish weather would probably still remain unpredictable. August whilst camping en route. Chief Instructor David
Team Alba had felt inspired to raise money for BCH after they had met first-hand the children and staff when they visited the Manor for a break. The bravery and resilience of some very ill children who are still able to maintain humour and smiles was inspirational. The hospital staff transformed part of the Manor into a mini hospital to facilitate the children’s needs to make it all possible. The staffs energy and kindness was outstanding, therefore it was certainly a motivational boost for ensuring we completed the long distance walk. Team Alba invested a lot of their own time and money for this worthy cause, and raised £1500.00 for the BCH.
A big thank you to all Manor Adventure staff who contributed to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
And finally a big thank you to Team Alba for making this happen, Ben Goddard, Nathan Oatridge, Steven Inman, Andy Cronian, Victoria Wood.
David Sutherland Nisbet
Chief Instructor, Culmington Manor, Shropshire