My New Adopted Family by James Tomlinson-Wrenn

The past four weeks have been like no other I have ever experienced before. I, personally, think I have developed in so many different ways thanks to the IYC team.

Before  I was really nervous that I wouldn’t make friends because I didn’t have many in school, I never thought that when people said I’d make friends that it was true. On the first day, I was welcomed, “adopted” as one of my new friends put it, into two massive friendship groups. On the second day, I felt like I had known them for years. As the first week of adventures passed, I had gotten to know most of the people I would be spending most of my time with and grew to care for them. We could all joke and laugh as freely as we liked because nobody cared who you were or who you are because they’re having fun and not stuck in a world of social media. After the first week ended and I had two days at home, it felt wrong to not be around my new friends and companions and my mood seemed to change. I felt lost to not be with my friends but that only inspired me more to talk to them and plan on meeting up with them after the programme would finish.

The second week started, I knew we were all really excited as we gathered in our groups of friends and felt relief as we were surrounded by those familiar faces and voices. In this week, we learnt a lot about each other personally like what we do and don’t like to do in terms of social activities and political or general knowledge. Everyone seemed to bond more by this point as we had more interests to talk about. Even the teams’ leaders were really approachable and friendly and acted as one of the kids, at the right times of course! During this week we had a disco, we all met in a big “wedding room” and waited for something to start. In this time, me and my friends were bored, so I started singing and they joined in, which I would never do In front of anyone before that day, and turned it into a mini karaoke. We had a ball! During this disco we bonded over our silly dance skills and music taste. This week, unfortunately, eventually came to an end. As I got home I found myself feeling the same was as after the first week. Luckily, my group of friends had a group chat where we talked the forty-eight hours away about how we missed the company of each other and the team leaders.

Third week eventually rolled up, we couldn’t wait to start planning our social action project. We all greeted each other and were all relieved to be back in each other’s’ company. We made our minds up, as a group, on what charity we wanted to donate to and managed to bond further over our interests of charities and which we thought took more priority. Then we found out how tough the week ahead was going to be as we started planning. Our group managed to stay positive with cheesy jokes and funny fails that kept our spirits high. The week wasn’t as bad as we thought it was though, even though the sun made us all tired and moody and it felt like such hard work at the time, I’m glad we planned the way we did because we got to teach each other new skills. We also got to show people what we were made of and prove the stereotype of a teenagers wrong by planning a great social action to raise money for charity. By the end of this week our small group of friends knew for definite that we would stay friends for a long time and plan trip out together. We passed the days off away with our usual chatter about how we envy people’s fashion sense and sense of humour.

The fourth and final week rocked up, I began to feel slightly emotional. I had spent most of my summer with the same people that I’ve grown to love and care for, not just as friends but as family as well. I knew that this was the last week we would see the whole of our group of forty and the team leaders. Our small friendship group was sad to see it slowly come to an end. We didn’t want it to stop. We strode our way through fourth week laughing and smiling, enjoying what we had planned by staying together and making memories I never thought would happen. The final Sunday came to an end and we realised that that was the last day our friends would be together. One of us would be on holiday the next day and would miss our final day. I know I felt scared that it was coming to an end as it would soon mean we would return back to the world and soon have to face our results and college. I knew I would miss the team leaders and how they treated us like adults and let us get on in our free time. I also knew that I would miss our whole group even if since of them were slightly annoying, I wouldn’t have had them any other way!

I can safely say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made, if I could go back and do it again I would. Nothing from these four weeks has put me off because I’ve learnt so many skills and have become a much more confident person.