Young people winching onboard Challenge Wales yacht

Boat Camp Is Back

Following the success of our first Boat Camp in 2021, we’ve launched another date for Boat Camp for those that are a little bit older aged 16 -25 years.

Although most young people jump on Challenge Wales or Adventure Wales boats as part of a group, we know that being part of a group isn’t possible for everyone and that was when Boat Camp was realised.

The next Boat Camp is Thursday 14th April and is a full day on the sail training vessel Adventure Wales. No sailing experience is required to take part and all waterproofs and equipment is provided.

Those onboard might be interested in trying something new, improving their social skills or learning new activities as part of a team. The day voyage is great for those looking to put something on their CV and highlight those important soft skills, while others are looking to just have a day on the water with like-minded people. The activities onboard help people understand more about ocean literacy, are evidenced to improve mental health and wellbeing and give young people an opportunity to learn more about having a career at sea and future opportunities. Our experienced crew will be there to help everyone get the most out of the day and support them.

The full cost for the day is £95 but a guaranteed bursary is available to reduce the cost to £50. Should a participant require further financial assistance then an additional bursary of £20 is available which reduces the full cost to just £30. Fundraising has made the bursary possible, but if someone doesn’t require a bursary then they can pay what they can afford (between £30 and £95) and the bursary not utilised will go towards helping someone else to come onboard.

To book a place, please email the Challenge Wales office or call 029 20 704657.

Download the Boat Camp poster here!

Welsh Charities Week 2021

Welsh Charities Week is taking place between 15th – 19th November 2021 and is the opportunity to shine a light on the amazing work that Welsh Charities and their volunteers do across Wales.

Challenge Wales has worked with a diverse range of organisations and individuals, not just in Wales but throughout the UK and overseas, and all of this is delivered with the help of our amazing team of volunteers onboard our sail training vessels; Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.

Supported by ITV Cymru Wales and hosted by the WCVA (Welsh Council for Voluntary Action) this is a great opportunity for Challenge Wales to shout about its innovative youth work which takes people to sea.

Activities onboard Challenge Wales’ vessels help young people learn essential life skills, broaden their horizons, improves mental health and helps people understand about sustainability in a hands-on way. The award-winning charity offers an accredited learning programme onboard the largest sailing boat in Wales and although South Wales is the home port for Challenge Wales and Adventure Wales, activities take them to West Wales, North Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England and overseas.

Read more about the impact of Challenge Wales sail training activities on young people.

World Sailing RYA and Steering the Course logo

World Sailing Global Women’s Sailing Festival Features Challenge Wales Trustee

The #SteeringThe Course festival is focussing on inspirational women participating in sailing, whether it is on the water, or off, but who are playing their part in getting people involved in sailing.

Vicky Williams, part of the Challenge Wales team

Vicky shares her story with World Sailing/RYA Cymru;

“I came from a non-sporty, non-sailing family and was introduced into sailing by a friend in my late teens, who I sailed for fun with on a few occassions. At that time I was actively competing in Dragon Boat Racing (which I really loved) and really enjoyed being on the water but sailing was completely new and a bit outside my comfort zone. My first sailing experiences were all about being an extra body onboard and just having a go. A few years later my husband (who had been a competitive sailor) bought a 41ft boat and I learnt the basics of sailing, learning the ropes and becoming a competent pair of hands.

A few years later I had the opportunity to jump onboard a Challenge 72, an ex round-the-world racing yacht (now known as Challenge Wales) and knowing how sailing might not always be or feel that accessible and that it can really develop social, communication and teamwork skills, I became a Board Member of the Challenge Wales sail training charity. A charity that uses sailing to inspire and develop young people to achieve their potential. Giving young people the opportunity to sail Challenge Wales and now our second vessel Adventure Wales has enabled some to take a career into the sailing world, for others it has enabled a career into the marine world, for others it has enabled them to feel positive about themselves and motivated them that anything can be possible.

Initially, I was not just a board member but a volunteer crew on many of the voyages but as I was hands-on with helping the new charity develop I stepped back from crewing to enable me to also meet all the people who were jumping onboard, bring in funding and recruit volunteer crew. Now as we head into our 12th year of operation I am amazed how far Challenge Wales has grown. The charity has sailed with thousands of young people jumping onboard, we have 100 volunteers as positive role models, our innovative sail training programme has received recognition within the industry and youth work sector and we even represented Wales at the Queens Jubilee Pageant in London in 2012.

In 2019 we piloted a couple of Ladies Only Sailing Days and a Sea and Tell programme which brings our sailing activities and sea-safety to younger children who can explore our boats in a safe way.

Being outdoors on the water is great for your mental health and connecting with nature and I am passionate about sustainability and environmental issues particularly microplastics (unfortunately) so it’s great that I can do this and learn through sailing and more importantly share my enthusiasm with others. I am one of those people that if I see an opportunity I grab it with both hands and will also encourage others to do the same. I hope for those who haven’t started sailing when they were really young realise there are still opportunities for getting involved out there.

Challenge Wales offers sailing opportunities for adults as well as young people. The charity works with young people aged 12 – 25 years but other activities the charity does means those aged 18 – 80 can also come sailing, volunteer as crew or get involved behind the scenes to enable more young people to have the opportunity.


We're recruiting for new roles at Challenge Wales

We’re Recruiting

Join us and share our amazing adventures!  As the Challenge Wales sail training charity looks forward to the future and restarting its activities we are on the hunt for a Skipper to join the team. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone who has the right sailing experience, fun and enthusiastic outlook , ability to manage maintenance activities, lead a team and wants to help young people develop their potential.

Deadline for applications:  21st May 2021

Click here to read the Skipper Job Description

This role will remain open until the right candidate is found.

Any enquiries regarding this role can be directed to the Challenge Wales office.

The Only Outdoor Education Provider To Be Shortlisted For a Welsh Government Award!

What a huge achievement it was to be nominated for a Welsh Government Youth Work Excellence Award 2020. It was amazing to see so many fantastic youth work projects alongside us. Every finalist was deserving of a win. There is certainly some magical stuff going on in youth work in Wales that isn’t always seen and even more so when you’re in the middle of a pandemic.

Although Challenge Wales didn’t win an award (we were nominated in the Equality and Diversity category), we were alongside some really exciting, life-enhancing, life-changing projects that were making a positive difference to the young people of Wales, but it was interesting to see that Challenge Wales was the only finalist to represent the Outdoor Education sector.

Although it was very nice to be the only Outdoor Education provider shortlisted, we were surprised there weren’t more when Outdoor Education plays a major part in many young people’s development…..and Wales is home to an amazing outdoor classroom!

Outdoor Education is a personal experience, helping young people develop skills that can’t be learned the same way in a formal setting, it can put everyone on the same playing field regardless of their abilities and background, it provides a skills-focused learning environment with adventure and fun within a framework of safety.

Outdoor Education gets minds exploring and encourages participants to take greater responsibility in their actions, it’s about active learning and problem-solving, it helps the understanding of the natural environment and in many creates a life-long appreciation for, and long-term engagement with, the outdoors. The outdoors can create a piece of calm and digital-detox space in the madness of the modern Covid-19 world. Our own independent evaluation of our activities evidenced the positive impact and improvements being on the water had on mental health.

Outdoor Education, and going to sea, is a truly powerful tool and residential experiences in particular, as we often see on our sail training vessels, are life-changing, empowering and offer positive spaces for all.

At the moment many outdoor education organisations are struggling while residential experiences are banned despite operators like ourselves putting in new covid-safe practices and changing how activities are run.

Everything we do in life is often not risk-free, and like all outdoor education providers assessing and managing risk is something we are very much used to….it is at the heart of our operations. We sail with the most precious cargo imaginable – people. We know COVID-19 is here for a while yet and with this uncertainty, we know we have to work with this shadow over us and adapt to manage the new normal.

For those in formal education, outdoor education will form part of the new curriculum in Wales which is supposed to be introduced in 2020. Sail training and outdoor centres are going to play a vital role in this. For those in informal and non-formal learning settings, the Youth Work Strategy for Wales is about ensuring young people can thrive and have the tools and experiences to ensure that. Sail training and outdoor centres play a vital role in this as well.

The Environment Act (Wales) 2016 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 together create modern legislation for improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. Did you know that outdoor learning contributes to all 7 Wellbeing Goals as well as providing ‘opportunities and activities that expand horizons within and beyond the traditional learning environment of the classroom.’ (source: Wales Council for Outdoor Learning).

Like many other outdoor education providers, we feel we can offer a fantastic, positive outdoor learning experience and this educational experience shouldn’t shut its doors on those that need it.

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion”
Kurt Hahn (A key figure in the development of experiential education and founder of Outward Bound)

Challenge Wales is supporting the ‘SaveOutdoorEd’ campaign and working with the sail training industry and outdoor sector to ensure its voice is heard. Feel free to tag us into the conversation using the hashtag #SaveOutdoorEd and don’t forget you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Challenge Wales Nominated For Youth Work Excellence Award

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for an award in the Equality and Diversity category of the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Award 2020.

The awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding youth work projects that are taking place across Wales and changing lives for the better. It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated as there are so many other deserving youth organisations doing fantastic work, like us.

Challenge Wales’ project ‘Voyages of Discovery’ has been nominated which worked with a diverse range of young people giving them life skills development opportunities plus accreditation – something tangible for a CV which many participants had originally thought was out of their reach.

The ‘Voyages of Discovery’ project aligned with a number of initiatives, policies and plans at local, national and UK government level including, in particular, the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015). The Project was also relevant to Welsh Government’s Charter for Youth Work in particular the statement that all young people in Wales are entitled to easy access to “opportunities to take part in outdoor adventure and in residential and international experiences”.

The young people taking part in Challenge Wales’ sail training activities were aged 14 – 25 years and included those with learning difficulties, and/or disabilities; young people living in areas of high unemployment and from inner cities; unemployed and NEET; Care leavers; those who were homeless or in supported housing; In care/Local Authority Care; those with mental health issues; Welsh speakers; those whose first language was not English; cultural/ethnic minorities; LGBTQ+ community members; Young Carers; those with long term health issues; substance misusers; those based in rural areas with access to few opportunities; those with a parent in prison and young offenders. Challenge Wales differs from many other youth organisations in that the charity works across a diverse mix of young people rather than focussing on one or two areas paralleled with a learning environment at sea makes Challenge Wales one of the most unique learning and youth work settings in Wales.

As one youth worker said: “The group was put together because of low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Being part of a team sailing Challenge Wales has enabled the group to believe in themselves that they can do and will do activities outside of their comfort zones….a positive outcome”.

Being nominated for the award, and recognised that we are playing a big part in youth work, is a fantastic testament to our amazing volunteers who tirelessly give up their time to work with these amazing young people and help focus them onto new horizons in a positive way.

We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed to see if we have won. Winners will be announced from 3.00pm on Friday 9th October 2020 on the Welsh Governments Education Wales You Tube Channel here.

2 Minutes To Make A Difference

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has stopped many smaller charities in their tracks. But you can make a difference to Challenge Wales today, by nominating the charity for a £1,000 grant.

Challenge Wales needs 2 minutes of your time to help us get a grant from Movement for Good and your nomination will really count.

You will be nominating Challenge Wales for a chance to win a £1,000 grant to enable us to help young people improve their education, life skills and employability prospects. At this time, £1,000 will really make a big difference to Challenge Wales and the life-changing work we undertake with young people.

Nominating Challenge Wales couldn’t be easier:
* Visit: https://www.movementforgood.com/#nominateACharity
* Nominate ‘Challenge Wales’ using our Charity Number: 1111859

Your nomination could be the one that helps us win the £1,000 grant! By the way, you can only enter once (per email address)!

The more nominations we get, the greater our chance of winning, so please spread the word.

Nominations close on Sunday 24th May 2020, so we encourage you to vote as soon as possible. It will cost you nothing to help us, except 2 minutes of your time to nominate us.

Thank you so much for your support 🙂

The impact of an Easter voyage

From being unemployed and spending hours alone in his bedroom to moving into work and then to college. We take a look back on one of our young people who jumped onboard an Easter voyage a few years ago and how his life took a different tack afterwards.

This voyage has stayed with us for many years and is often talked about when we are getting people to understand the impact of our work. When we talk to funders, to supporters, to donors, to volunteers, to parents, to group leaders….it is this inspiring story that has been one of our special ‘wow’ moments. And, that encourages us to keep doing what we are doing.

‘Luke’ was 18 when he jumped onboard one of our residential voyages. Like many of our trips, he didn’t know anyone else who would be his fellow crewmates. Those jumping onboard were coming onboard for their own, and very different, reasons. Something different to do, wanting an adventure, five days of learning about the local environment, a way of completing their DofE Gold Residential, a way to become a young volunteer, an opportunity to do something new. The reasons are often always different but that doesn’t matter. Everyone is in the same boat…meeting new people and doing something that is out of their comfort zone.

On this occasion, we knew very little about ‘Luke’ and it was only several months after the voyage that this amazing story started piecing itself together…and continues to do so.

Luke was unemployed and lived with his grandmother. He lacked self-motivation, had anger management issues and spent many hours alone at home. Luke hadn’t talked for two years, didn’t have many friends and his Youth Worker wasn’t sure if Luke would be able to hold down a full-time job. His youth worker booked him onto our voyage and after stepping onboard Challenge Wales, it wouldn’t be long until Luke and his fellow shipmates would be out at sea on their own personal adventure.

So, what was the impact of this voyage on one young person?

While onboard, Luke talked for the first time in two years and the onboard daily activities helped improve his communication skills. Post voyage, Luke was keen to get a job. At his first job interview, he talked passionately about the impact of sail training and although he didn’t get this job, the knockback didn’t stop him. Within 6 months Luke was holding down a job…something his youth worker didn’t expect him to do. When we last recently spoke to the youth worker who still knows Luke, we were told he was studying for a business degree.

The impact though was wider than just Luke and had a bigger impact on the community and you can read our case study for the full story. The impact was wider than we could have imagined. Over the years we’ve been learning why we get the results we do; why there is improved mental health, improved teamwork skills, improved communication skills. It’s because the learning environment is unique, is challenging, is inspiring, is digital-detoxing, is amongst the natural environment.

We love sharing our impact and if you’ve been on one of our voyages and want to let us know what happened afterwards then we’d love to talk to you!

For more case studies visit our website.

Trustees of Challenge Wales picking up trophy at Sail Training International Conference

Challenge Wales Wins Top Award

Challenge Wales has scooped an international award of ‘Sail Training Organisation of the Year’ at an industry conference in Antwerp.

The award went to the charity for “Excellence, innovation and best practice in sail training with young people”. Sail Training International said prior to the announcement of the award; “There is no doubt that this organisation does some inspirational work on board with hard-to-reach individuals“.

This is an amazing award for the work that Challenge Wales has done during 2019 working with so many disadvantaged young people. This year Challenge Wales has been working with homeless/risk of homeless young people as well as young carers, those in the care system, young people with learning difficulties, LGBTQ groups and those who are financially disadvantaged through unemployment or lack of opportunities.

Over the past three years the charity has had its work independently evaluated. A sneak peak of the report which is due out in January has evidenced that sail training activities onboard Challenge Wales’ vessels Challenge Wales | Wales Tall Ship and Adventure Wales have shown young people with improved mental health after sail training activity, that activities have developed employability skills and that sail training has got young people back into work (employment and volunteering roles) and into college. We’ll be sharing lots more from the report early next year!

Challenge Wales is a predominantly volunteer-run charity and their volunteers were first to know about the win at a festive Volunteers evening a couple of days later. The award is the icing on the cake of a fantastic year.

Challenge Wales guests sat at the Cardiff International White Water listening to speakers

Celebrating Voyages of Discovery

A three year project funded by The Big Lottery Community Fund Wales, Voyages of Discovery, which worked with some of the most disadvantaged young people in Wales was hailed a success and celebrated its achievements at a recent community celebration event.

Over three years, the sail training charity worked with no fewer than 500 young people, 100 volunteers and developed accredited learning with Agored Cymru in an innovative sail training programme.

Challenge Wales worked in partnership with 50 youth organisations throughout Wales to reach some of the most disadvantaged young people to give them lifeskills development opportunities.

Challenge Wales display showing quotes and images
Images and quotes from young people and group leaders were on display at the celebration event

“Challenge Wales took my son for a three day trip and he loved it, he came home happier than I seen him in a long time. He’s had his fair share of difficulties and programmes like Challenge Wales make such a difference to his quality of life. Thank you all.”

The Voyages of Discovery programme developed Agored Cymru accredited learning giving young people an opportunity to put something tangible onto their CV with the Environmental Project being launched by female Skipper Dee Caffari at the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover event in Cardiff in 2018. The programme not only saw young people improving their teamwork, confidence and social networks but an unexpected outcome of the project was evidenced improvements in young people’s mental health.

Young people who had been part of our Voyages of Discovery programme talked about how the programme had impacted their lives positively and inspired them. And, it was great to see how many young people had progressed back into education, employment, volunteering or onto Challenge Wales’ mainstream sail training programme.

Guests on the evening heard from our Youth Development Officer on how our programme had reached a diverse audience, a youth worker who had been amazed at the change in the young people and a volunteer who had worked with young people and had seen first hand how the young people had developed during their time onboard.

“We all had an amazing time onboard.  The young people gained a lot of valuable experience.  The crew members were AMAZING, so positive and reassuring with all of us.  They were inspirational!” Group Leader

The project was independently evaluated and evidenced in one young person that for every £1 invested, a benefit of £7.64 was seen! Yes, this project really did have an amazing impact!!

Thank you so much to everyone who was part of our Voyages of Discovery project, it has truly taken us on an amazing journey and thanks to Cardiff International White Water who hosted the event….. of course, we had to pick a venue with water close by!!!

Finally, a really big thank you to National Lottery players and the National Lottery Community Fund who enabled us to run and develop this programme.

You can read some of our case studies from our Voyages of Discovery programme on our website.