Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program – Summer 2022
|Dates||May and June|
Adventure & Leadership Immersion: Short Program
What’s it all About?
The Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program is a structured, short gap year program designed to give students an opportunity to explore Ireland, develop strong leadership skills and build their independence.
This is accomplished through a combination of the program cornerstones of Outdoor Adventure, Cultural Immersion and developing Leadership Skills.
Students will be able to immerse themselves in the culture and daily life of a small, coastal town in the west of Ireland along while challenging their boundaries through exploring the great outdoors of our rugged Atlantic coastline and mountains. Community living will be complemented with road trips and overnight expeditions to some of Ireland’s best cultural sites.
The Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program offers a fun and low-stress balance of community living, outdoor adventure, leadership development and cultural travel throughout Ireland. This program is for students who are on a time budget, but still want a structured gap year experience.
This program provides you with a platform to explore a different culture and country, build your leadership-skills, grow as an individual and explore Ireland’s epic landscapes while pushing your comfort zone and building up your independence.
- Develop leadership and interpersonal skills through team challenges and our experiential leadership workshops.
- Push your comfort zone and experience Ireland’s epic landscapes through surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, sea-kayaking and camping.
- Explore Ireland’s favourite cities with overnight expeditions to Dublin, Belfast and Galway.
- Live with your peers in our student housing on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the quaint seaside town of Bundoran, County Donegal.
- Enjoy daily adventures throughout the Northwest of Ireland exploring castles, coastlines, villages, museums, National Parks and more.
Find Out More About our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program
The Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program aims to build students independence and leadership skills while providing a distinctive perspective on Ireland. This is accomplished through the three cornerstones of Leadership Skills, Outdoor Adventure and Cultural Immersion.
Each day is a balance between physical activities, cultural trips and leadership workshops. All designed to be fun and light-hearted so that students can learn through experience while building up friendships and bonds with their fellow students.
The program is a concise version of our semester length Adventure & Leadership Program and offers students on a tighter time budget a comparable ‘gap’ experience.
These Cornerstones are interwoven throughout our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program and are developed through student-projects, reflection, self-governance and on the principal of experiential learning. Find out more about our Cornerstones by clicking on each of the icons below, or by clicking under the dropdown menu titled “Grow” at the top of every page.
Outdoor Adventure: Welcome to your Classroom
We believe that time spent in nature is good for the body, mind and soul. On our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program you will explore Ireland’s natural wonders while challenging yourself to push past your perceived limitations.
We make full use of the superb natural resources that we have on our doorstep and enjoy daily, instructed adventures in:
- Cliff Jumping
Our outdoor adventures are nearly all a ½ day in length, meaning no gruelling multi-day hikes or shower-less weeks! And you don’t have to be a super-adventurer, hiker, surfer, outdoors-person to LOVE the Outdoor Adventure aspect of this program. In fact, many gappers have never been on a ‘proper’ hike in their lives previous to the program while others will have completed outdoor programs in the past.
Whatever your level of experience, the goal for each student is to progress in the outdoor adventure activities from their own starting point to a new personal best throughout the program. All that’s required to achieve this is an open mind, a decent set of water-proofs and a determined spirit!
Leadership is about enhancing one’s personal strengths, working effectively within a team and developing the characteristics of a leader best suited to your personality type.
To achieve these goals we interweave a combination of leadership workshops, group projects, team-building games, student leaders, role modelling and reflective practices.
Our Leadership Workshops are taught in our outdoor classroom at Castle Park (perhaps the world’s most scenic classroom!?). They are conversation and experience-based workshops that are broken up with games, challenges and journaling designed to get students thinking about new concepts and examine themselves on a deeper level. The leadership workshops are taught by Irish Gap Year Directors Ryan Allen and Killian O’Kelly as well as Irish Gap Year Program Leaders. Some of the topics include:
Principles of Personal Leadership: Personal leadership vs. personal management and knowing the difference. Developing a compass of values and principles to navigate the map of life.
Circle of Influence & Personal Mission Statement:
Where and how to we develop identity and what are the contributing factors? What type of person do you want to be? What would you like to accomplish or contribute to the world? What values are these based on? In this workshop we will identify our circle of influence and create a Personal Mission Statement.
What Makes a Great Leader? Who are great leaders you’ve known and what are they qualities? How did it feel to be around these people? Identifying the main types of leadership and completing a leadership self-assessment.
Deciphering team dynamics: What makes for a successful team? What are the key personalities and traits? How do we define and measure the success of a team?
Communication Skills: What messages are we sending and are these intended? What ways do we communicate non-verbally and how can we tap into the power of non-verbal communication?
Problem Solving: How we can think outside the box and work as a team to solve complex problems by breaking them down.
Time as a student leader allows you to play an active role in the development of your own education. When an experience is earned, it is more meaningful and beneficial. This process is known as self-governance and is a valuable life skill that you’ll take away from the Adventure & Leadership Program.
You will have multiple opportunities to play the role of student leader, which sees each student in a leadership role, revolving every three days. As we progress through the program a student’s leadership style and their role within the team will evolve and grow offering invaluable applied leadership practice. After your time as student leader, you’ll self-evaluate your leadership skills and reflect on the experience with your program leader, identifying both strengths and areas to improve.
Your time as a student leader will be fun, challenging and constructive. As many have said in the past, there is no substitute for learning by doing!
Example Student Leader Roles:
- Assisting Program Leaders on activities
- Preparing the group for expeditions and outdoor adventures
- Day-to-day management of the household (house chores!)
- Small presentations on Irish history. On-site and brief, they are great peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
Cultural Immersion: Live like locals
Becoming involved in another culture expands your world view and develops ones cultural competency.
Students on our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program are going to have the opportunity to delve into Irish culture by living in our local community, getting to know the locals and exploring some of Ireland’s world famous cultural and heritage sites.
As with all of our cornerstones, cultural immersion is entwined within the larger framework of the program. Living in a small Irish town allows students a candid and unique experience of modern-day Ireland, not afforded to most visitors. Exploring heritage sites and museums offers insight into the past and the building blocks of Irish society. Our overnight expeditions around Ireland give perspective of the different cultures that exists within Ireland and connect you with the places that have shaped the Irish identity.
Ultimately, our students will come away from this program with a unique experience of Irish culture that few visitors are afforded, memories of Ireland that will last a lifetime and the ability to interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of different cultural backgrounds.
The Expeditions Hotspot Map
Our expeditions around Ireland will take you to many of our countries ‘must-see’ locations, as well as some of the lesser-known gems. Each expedition has its own student leader who will work closely with the program leaders to plan, prepare and manage the journey. Prepare to step out of your comfort zone and into the big wide world!
- West Donegal
THE DERRY EXPEDITION
Locals will take us on a tour of the city walls, which tell the story of ‘The Troubles’ in graffiti and symbols. Although this artwork is politically controversial, powerful and graphic, it is left for all to see and serves as a reminder of how far things have come in the past 20 years.
We will then depart Derry and head to Inishowen Peninsula to explore this seldom visited region of County Donegal famous for its beaches, castles and traditional villages.
While in Inishowen you will enjoy exploring and learning about the many ruined castles as we hike around Malin Head, Ireland’s Northernmost point.
GALWAY: Ireland’s Culture Capital
Galway is just about everyone’s favourite Irish city, and it’s no wonder why.
It’s cobbled streets buzz with vibrancy, music of buskers floats in the air mixing with delightful smells wafting from cafés and restaurants, the sea air permeates the city center. Galway’s museums are amazing, the pubs world-renowned and the people among the friendliest in Europe.
While in the ‘City of Tribes’ we will take in the amazing ambiance of Galway, enjoy museum visits, day-trip to the Aran Islands to explore ancient Celtic fortresses and amazing nature, have wonderful group dinners in the evening and allow for ample free time.
This is always a much-loved trip amongst our students.
WEST DONEGAL EXPEDITION
Sea Cliffs, Mountain Tops, National Parks and Castles
Welcome to West Donegal, a place of rugged beauty, vast sea- scapes and lonely mountain peaks.
Home to one of Europe’s highest sea-cliffs, West Donegal boasts a landscape unrivalled. This expedition will bring you to some of Ireland’s highest mountain peaks with outstanding views of the northwest, to places of ancient folklore and to stunning, windswept beaches.
Prepare to be immersed in a long-forgotten landscape; dramatic, beautiful and on the furthest fringes of Ireland.
Ireland’s capital city is home to many national treasures, interesting characters and a rich history going all the way back to its Viking roots. While in Dublin we will be staying in the city centre just a short walk from the main downtown areas.
Gappers will compete against one another in small teams on our Dublin City photo scavenger hunt, which sees students searching out both iconic and underground cultural hotspots. We will also tour the well-kemp and elegant grounds of Trinity College, the world-famous Guinness Brewery (pints on the 13th floor included!) and the National Archeology Museum of Ireland.
There will also be free time for students to explore the city, shop and have their own adventures. In the evenings we will enjoy group meals at restaurants and pubs.
BELFAST AND PORTRUSH: Game of Thrones Country and Beyond
Small, yet bursting with natural beauty, history and mystery, the Belfast and Portrush expedition is the perfect mix of adventure and culture. We’ll tour the Bushmills Distillery and visit the Titanic Museum. We’ll stop off at a few ‘Game of Thrones’ film locations and enjoy an evening of cinema and wine in a private Art Deco 1920’s theatre.
To top things off we’ll wrap up the Belfast trip with a guided walking tour of the city’s street art, which tells the history of conflict and peace in Belfast through graffiti.
A Day in the Life on our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program
Every day on our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program is unique. We strive to get the balance of physical, mental and cultural stimulation just right and are open to the feedback of each group.
Here is an example of what a normal ‘local’ day on our Adventure & Leadership Immersion Program looks like:
9am: Program leaders arrive at the student house. The student leader helps to prepare the group for the day’s activities.
10am – 1pm: Hike on Arroo Mountain, County Leitrim. Take a brave and chilly swim at ‘Tin Whistle Lake’ on top of the mountain and enjoy the breathtaking scenery over the surrounding countryside and coastline.
1-2pm: Home for lunch
2pm – 5pm: Communication Skills Leadership Workshop and team challenges in our outdoor classroom.
6pm – 7pm: Home-cooked group dinner prepared by the Irish Gap Year team.
7.30 – 9pm: Optional cliff jumping and swimming at Bundoran Beach
9pm – 12pm: Free time