Are you ready for the 2023 Annington Challenge? Last year’s events had record numbers of children and young people from service families taking part – and it proved to be the highlight of their summer.

For the past ten years, the Annington Challenge has provided military youngsters aged 11-19 from all over the UK with an opportunity to experience an Outward Bound course. The project is aimed at those who would benefit from an experience proven to improve self-confidence and self-belief, team-working skills and resilience.

Annington funds up to 90 per cent of the cost and applications are encouraged from all ranks. In 2022, 71 military youngsters, including 31 from the army, were lucky enough to be offered a choice of four courses – Basecamp, Ridge, Summit and Pinnacle – that took place at two of Outward Bound’s fantastic centres – Aberdovey in North Wales and Ullswater in Cumbria.

Going beyond

The groups enjoyed everything from sailing, abseiling and rock climbing to wild camping, canoeing and gorge walking. The programmes were overseen by Outward Bound’s team of experienced and qualified instructors, who encouraged the youngsters to tackle activities designed to take them outside their comfort zones.

One army youngster was 15-year-old Izzy Moverley (main photo), a student at Dauntsey’s in Wiltshire, whose dad is based at army headquarters.

Izzy told us that the Annington Challenge helped her to come out of her shell and instil a sense of self-confidence.

“I was really nervous on the way to Aberdovey and when I arrived I was on my own like everyone else – no-one knew anyone,” she recalls. “But then a girl called Molly just smiled at me – who knew that just by introducing yourself, you’d make a friend.

“Meeting loads of new people was great and the experience really helped me put myself in other people’s shoes. Some people struggled during different activities and I found myself encouraging and supporting them. At times I really felt like a leader.

“I enjoyed gorge walking the most as I’ve never done that before. The worst bit was the abseiling… we spent the night sleeping on the mountain over a cave and then the next morning abseiled down over it. The whole experience made me feel really good about myself, particularly when we summited three mountains in one day.”

For anyone considering applying for a place for 2023, Izzy has one simple piece of advice: “Do it – you really do only live once!”

To register or find out more, visit The Annington Challenge.

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