What sixteen-year-olds really need is a good traipse up a hill

When the Devil’s Kitchen (courtesy of The Namless One) and Sunny Hundal are in broad agreement, you just know the idea’s not so much half-baked but hasn’t even made it into the oven.

In this case, David Cameron’s clearly suffering from sunstroke when he launches the somewhat odd idea that 16-year-olds should spend their summer doing patriotic national service. Apparently this will fix our broken society.

So, the solution to stop teenagers on council estates getting into gangs is to carry old ladies shopping, sending them up a hill for a week, putting them into the military or sending them abroad to help third world countries. Note to Dave: This may be great for Channel 4 reality shows. However, C4 reality shows do not make government policy maketh.

As this is a voluntary scheme, I can see it appealing to parents who read the Daily Mail as a way to keep the kids occupied over the summer. Anybody else will probably do what any normal 16-year-old will do over the summer: go to the beach, get a poorly-paid summer job and drink cider in parks.

Back over to the Kitchen:

“Yeah, that is going to make teenagers feel better. Losing their summer holidays to take part in utter shite like a triathlon or walking on arsing hills. They’re going to think Britain is great because Britain has made them do something with their whole summer holidays. And they are going to be set a great example at such a formative age on how to live their lives – not choosing what you should do, but rather doing it because the government expects it.”

And again, on the idea it’ll divert some teens from a life of crime:

“Why? Through tramping on the hills? By doing a twatting triathlon? By playing at soldiers? And since when have those about to turn to crime volunteered for fucking anything? Unless he is going to force them to attend, in which case I would love to see what happens to the self confidence of the bookish swot and the drifter grow when faced with the fledgling criminal.”

Near where I live there’s a pretty decent set of activities to keep kids entertained over the summer (it actually seems to be something the majority of local councils do well, as South Somerset did quite a lot in outdoor learning and entertainment activities). I would link to it, but after scouring the relevant websites, I can’t find a mention of it, which suggests it needs some funding and publicity. But I remember the activities on offer were a mixture of the entertaining and useful and something I’d actually want to do when I was 16.

For the record, the summer after my GCSEs was part-spent walking up and down hills around Pembrokeshire, along with exploring various beaches. But then, having grown up in Devon, I like walking up hills. Mainly because you don’t get any choice about climbing hills. Devon is full of them, you just have to get over it. Literally. But just because I like hills, doesn’t mean everyone else will. And I’d rather chose what I did on the hill, thanks very much.

If somebody told me I’d HAVE to spend my summer walking up hills to make be a better, more patriotic person, I’d have probably run straight into the city and spent the summer flipping burgers instead. Cameron’s suggestion sounds to me much like CCF at school. I hated that and it taught me nothing useful, other than I really don’t like heights. I would imagine Dave’s proposals would have had much the same effect on me if I was 16 today.


1 Response to “What sixteen-year-olds really need is a good traipse up a hill”

  1. 1 cerimorgan September 11, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I think adventure holidays are the way forward! Everybody loves a good zipwire, especially when you’re 16.

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September 2007

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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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