Hello!

This is a quick overview of some of things we would like you to know before you come to Ardroy, for the first week of your National Citizen Service Programme powered by The Challenge.

We've tried to think of most of the questions you may ask, and they are as below. Our website is is full of other info, so we've put some links in this document which will take you to other places on our site that provide additional information.

Where is Ardroy?

Ardroy is 2 miles outside the village of Lochgoilhead, on the west shore of Loch Goil, a tidal sea loch. We are about 1 hour's drive north of Glasgow, and in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. You can see a map of where we are here. We are surrounded by mountains, forest, lochs and crags.

How will I get there?

Transport is arranged by The Challenge, you will travel by coach, and arrive around about tea time. We will have a light meal ready for you very soon after you arrive. We expect that you will have eaten something en route, so we'll do a buffet rather than a sit down meal.

You will depart Ardroy by 1000 on the final morning & we will supply you with a packed lunch.

Where will I stay?

We have three separate accommodation blocks, two in the first and second floors of the main house, and one in a separate block, called Heron. It's dormitory style accommodation, some of them have up to 10 beds, but we will try and spread the numbers as evenly as possible. Males will most likely be in the Heron block, and females in the main house. There are showers and toilets on every floor, and a Challenge member of staff will sleep on every floor as well. While not five star, they are comfortable and you won't be spending much time in there! There is more info on our accommodation here

What should I bring?

We have a suggested clothing list you can download here. , and an official Challenge packing list should have been sent out to you. You can view the 2016 list here. Please bring lots of old, comfortable clothes. Jeans are a bad idea as they are a nightmare to dry out & track suit trousers are much better. PLEASE BRING A SWIMMING COSTUME AND A TOWEL (hopefully that's clear...). Make sure you bring a spare pair of old trainers that you don't mind getting wet. You will be getting wet!    BRING A TOWEL (just in case you need it saying again).

What will you supply?

We will provide you with waterproofs, a fleece, wellies, and all the other specialist kit you need, eg wet suits, expedition kit, blah blah. If you have your own waterproofs, boots etc, you are welcome to bring them. It might be called 'summer', but we we get all sorts of weather, so please bring warm clothing as well.

Top Tips?

Midges are bad in Lochgoilhead. Actually no, they're not bad, they can be horrendous. Sorry about that :-(

They are worst on still, damp evenings, and can make life pretty miserable. PLEASE bring some decent midge repellent- we recommend Avon's Skin so Soft, or Smidge. That said, the best midge repellent is your clothes & so bring long sleeved, long trousered items. Midges can't bite you through fabric, so standing outside in shorts and t shirt makes you a gourmet meal. A lot of our staff wear a long sleeved tops to protect their arms.

We will supply you with a midge net, but if you want to buy your own they will be better than our home made ones. We can't stress enough that they can be grim sometimes, so please take this advice seriously. If you need convinced, have a look at this picture  which someone took looking through a window at night a few years ago. Convinced now? No? Try this tweet with video footage. OK, point made.

Suncream Please bring some, and a water bottle. You will be out and active all day no matter what the weather. A sun hat is also a good idea.

Ticks! Just when you were getting over the midge warning, we thought we'd bring up ticks! These are rather unpleasant tiny little parasites that like to hang around in vegetation until you wonder past, then jump onto you, and have a wee sip of your blood. Nice. The tick itself is unpleasant but not hazardous, however there is a VERY SMALL chance of contracting Lymes Disease from their bite. There is advice on Lymes Disease on the NHS Website here. None of our instructors who get bitten on a nearly weekly basis have ever contracted it, but the number of reported cases are on the increase. We will remove the tick ASAP (or you can do it, ask us how), but if you come down with flu like symptoms a few weeks after being bitten, it is good practice to see your GP. Prevention is better than cure - if you wander around barefoot & wearing shorts in vegetation, you are asking to be bitten. Covering up is key.

What will we be doing?

A sample programme can be downloaded here. Please note that while we will try and stick to the programme, the weather and numerous other variables can get in the way. If you want to find out more about the activities listed in the programme, have a look here.It might also be worth looking at our Advice to Participants, including our Safety Statement.

You will be doing an overnight expedition where you will camp out, but hopefully get to enjoy the comparative luxury of our tepees!

Who will be in my group, and who will be its leader?

You will work in groups of 12, The Challenge organise the groupings for us. Each group will work with a Challenge Mentor, and an Ardroy instructor. You'll find them to be nice people, who are motivated to help you get the most out of your week. We can't promise you that it will be plain sailing all the time, but the same two staff will work with you throughout the week. Your Ardroy instructor will meet you on the morning of the first full day of the course, and work with you right through to the last evening.

You will take it in turns to appoint 2 group leaders every day, and they will take some responsibility for organising the rest of the group. More will be explained to you when you arrive.

Can I bring my mobile phone? What about valuables?

You can bring a phone if you wish, but we only get reliable reception on Vodafone, and a patchy Orange signal. Nothing else. Zip, nadda, not a sausage. Nowt. Diddly Squat. Because we are surrounded by mountains, you won't get any other networks. You could try waving your phone around in the air to see if you can get any other networks, but you won't. It might be a good idea to let your friends and family know about this beforehand if you are not on the above networks. We also only have a 1G data signal.  The official view on mobiles from Challenge Network is here.

Mobiles are not permitted during activities. There are no locks on the dorms, so please think carefully about what you bring with you & very expensive gucci smartphones are a bad idea. We can't take responsibility for any valuables you may have. We will offer the chance to put things in our safe while you are on expedition, but we won't be running to and fro every 5 minutes to give you access to the safe. There are a limited number of sockets in the building for you to able to charge things up. Think ahead & plan accordingly.

What about WiFi?

We do have a wireless network in parts of the centre, but it is used for networking our computers, and is not available for general use. Our internet connection is slow and patchy, and is needed for business use.Sorry, but you won't be able to access the internet while you are at Ardroy. There is only a 1g data signal. All the more reason not to bring your gucci phone - see it as a digital detox!

Is there a shop on site?

We will be selling a few essentials, as we've found folks leave things behind. But probably best to try to bring the things you need in the first place...!

What if I have a special diet?

Please let The Challenge know in the space on the forms, and they will pass the information on to us. We can cater for most things, but we need to know in advance! Due to the preparation space in our kitchen, we aren't able to promise a separate Halal menu every night, but there is always a vegetarian option.

If some early waves of the programme fall within Ramadan - our kitchen staff won't be around at sunset and sunrise, but we can arrange for food to be available. However, please discuss this with The Challenge if it will affect you.

I smoke, is this OK? What about alcohol?

Smoking is only permitted in a designated smoking area, and never on activity, or while in tents. There are obvious risks of damaging things from cigarettes, and you need to consider the effects of your secondary smoke on those around you. We regard electronic cigarettes as being the same as conventional cigarettes, so the same rules as above apply.

The Challenger Code of Conduct bans all alcohol or illegal drugs during the course. Nuff said.

Will you force me to do anything?

No. We are nice people. We will certainly persuade you to have a go, but we believe in challenge by choice. We expect you to get fully involved in the programme however, including the overnight expedition. We aim to stretch you, but never panic you.

Any other things?

There is a web page with short videos of some of the activities you might be doing here. Feel free to have a look. There is a promotional video designed for youth groups which might be worth a watch here.