UK Rock Challenge Ambassadors Blog

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Entry day complete! Now what?

Congratulations to the dedicated and probably very sleepy teachers who woke up super early for entry day! You did it! So now that you've secured your place at an event in the 2018, what next? Getting started on a new Rock Challenge or JRock is always an exciting time of year but it can also seem a little daunting. The start of a project is a blank page and all you have are questions. What sort of theme do we want to do? Would this story work? Is it original? How would we show that? Is it even possible to tell? Who knows, but you've somehow got to find a way to give your creativity a direction. 

In the next few months on this blog, we're hoping to help you along the way. We're giving you regular posts chatting about theme, set design, costumes, planning, fundraising and so on. Hopefully what we share will be helpful and, if not, at least really interesting to read. 

This blog is written and ran by voluntary Ambassadors from all over the UK and with the support of UK Rock ChallengeⓇ we're hoping to shed some insights onto various aspects of creating your own performance but also the wider Rock Challenge community and what that can mean! We will be gathering examples from schools across the country with varying levels of experience and opportunity so it should apply to everyone! 

We are so excited for the 2018 tour, it is going to be so amazing! With over 50 events across the UK, including a whole bunch of new events in new locations and another National Final, 2018 is looking to be a pretty exciting tour. We're counting down the days. 

So... watch this space! And to those sleepy teachers, get an early night tonight, you earned it! 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Rock Challenge: Why you shouldn't be afraid to go for it

As a sufferer of anxiety disorders, participating in new experiences can be scary and daunting.

In 2013 I took the plunge and applied to be a part of the wardrobe team for my school's Rock Challenge® entry for the 2014 tour. I had heard about the experience from my friends who had been competing for years and it sounded like a lot of fun. I luckily got a position and the team started work on drawing up costume and make up ideas for our piece. This was great fun and I got to meet students from different years at the school, taking measurements to order and creating costumes. 

February 2014 came around, along with my first ever Rock Challenge® event in Stevenage. I was able to mask my fear among my team mates but I was afraid. What would the day bring? How does the competition work? 
We arrived at the venue and as part of the backstage team, we unloaded the van with our set inside. Immediately I felt at ease as friendly members of the Rock Challenge® team gave us clear instructions as to what to do. After a morning of unpacking make up and costume, the morning production meeting came around. This was the event I was most anxious about because of the loud music and crowds of people. However I had no need to be so anxious. There are options to stand at the back of the meeting, plus the music isn't too loud and the information given by the team is presented in a humorous way to make you feel like part of a Rock Challenge® family. Also, everyone from your own team and other schools look out for each other during the whole event beginning to end. 

Armed with information about the day ahead, the day zoomed by due to the excitement and fun I was having and soon it was time for our performance after an evening of painting make up on a cast of around 60 people. 

My first Rock Challenge® experience, despite being initially daunting, is the thing I am most proud of. I took the plunge and applied for the team and Rock Challenge® has changed my life in many ways. It has shown me not to be afraid of the unknown as people are extremely friendly and understanding and you may be missing out on something you will love. 

After my first experience, my school went on to the Southern Premier Finals, and I became Head of Wardrobe for our schools next entry. I then applied to be a Rock Challenge® volunteer, standing on the stage and dancing despite this being the thing I used to be so scared of! 

Rock Challenge® has allowed me to grow in confidence, and really is open to anyone and everyone. Don't be afraid to take part, and certainly don't be afraid to follow your dreams!

Love Emily D

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

How I became involved with Rock Challenge

September 2007 my son started secondary school & got involved in Rock Challenge®, to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to what it was until the following year. The school Liaison Teacher made an announcement that she needed help to paint set, so I decided to go along & give her a helping hand little did I know that that was the start of my involvement with Rock Challenge® & the Be Your Best Foundation. That first year, my involvement was very much in the background as I wasn’t sure what the whole “Rock Challenge®” thing was about. Then the big day was here, off we went to our local heat; set, costumes, props, make-up & kids in tow, everyone getting more excited the nearer we got to the venue. As we entered the building the whole place was buzzing, vans were being emptied, set was stored, kids were jumping & dancing everywhere, I was beginning to wonder what I had let myself in for!

Rehearsals began, then the morning production meeting, that was when the whole place erupted & everyone when wild. I was quite nervous & very self-conscious, not knowing what was about to happen. I had a reputation in school of being a bit strict but the atmosphere helped me relax & be myself, which came as a bit of a surprise to quite a few people & they realised that I could have fun. After that the day went pretty much the same as any other event, it ended all too soon but I knew I would be back as I’d had the most amazing day.  The next year I was involved right from the start, I even joined the supporters group, became the teacher in charge of the stage crew, was this the start of my addiction? Probably! I even began to look forward to the production meetings, still hiding at the back for teacher’s one though. Our performance this time got us quite a few awards & a place in the final at Grimsby. The bug was well & truly taking hold!

By now just taking part at my local event wasn’t enough, I enjoyed it so much I wanted to do more. My son had already begun volunteering at our local events & mentioned that he would like to go to other events, so we decided to volunteer for a few of Scottish events. I was a bit apprehensive as I didn’t know anyone apart from the “crew”, but after speaking to some of the other volunteers on the volunteer's Facebook page where everyone seemed friendly, I began to look forward to it. When we arrived everyone was very welcoming & made us feel right at home, just like one big happy family.  That week I met some of the most amazing people I have the pleasure of calling friends.

My 2nd year of volunteering I decided to join the accreditation scheme which means I had to complete certain tasks; such as collecting the schools in time to perform (runner), helping on the merchandise desk, to helping with admin, backstage & looking after the school liaison teachers over a number of event days to earn your bronze, silver & gold award. I was presented with my bronze award at my local event later that year. Being a volunteer you get to continue your Rock Challenge® experience after you leave school without the stress of performing & see what it’s like to work in different venues with professionals. It is such an amazing thing to be involved with as you get to see some fantastic performances & very talented young people doing something they enjoy & having fun.

For me Rock Challenge® isn’t just about a drug free high, it’s been more about giving me the opportunity & confidence to try things that I otherwise would never have done, getting involved has opened a whole new world & given me the chance to meet some fantastic & amazingly talented people. It gave me the confidence to overcome my fear of motorway driving so that I could attend the National Final. During my 10 years of being involved with Rock Challenge® I have made lifelong friends, gained confidence & challenged myself to try new things, I look forward to every event that I can get to & I am no longer bothered about making a fool of myself on stage…it’s all part of the fun. I feel very privileged to be part of this fantastic organisation that give young people in our country the chance to be all they can be.

Thanks for reading & if you are in any doubt about being a volunteer, I would say "just do it, you won't regret it!"


Monday, 9 January 2017

Rock Challenge.. One of the best things I've ever done

I started my Rock Challenge® experience back in 2013/2014 when I competed with my local school; Kings College, Guildford. It was the first time the event was brought to Guildford and the first time our school was able to get involved and I was excited to get started with everyone! As a sixth former it was my job alongside my class and dance teacher to come up with a concept and routine that would do our school proud.

We took our performance of 'The 5 Senses' to G Live and as a school we had such an amazing day watching other schools and being able to show what we had come up. At the end of the day unfortunately we didn't place in our heats but as a team this taught us we can be so much stronger next year but for myself I had the joy of being to perform on stage in front of a bigger audience then I usually do and being able perform with the rest of my team a performance that I had pleasure to choreograph.

The next year was not only my final year in sixth form but the last year dancing and being involved in Rock Challenge® with my school and so I wanted to make sure with the rest of my team we made it the best yet. So with the rest of my sixth form class we discussed we wanted to base our performance on a real life experience, so we took the concept of slavery. This piece meant a lot to all of us as we all knew it was such tough topic so we wanted to be able to portray it and show the audience we understand what slaves went through back then as they went through such a hard time.

So with our performance of 'I don't want to survive, I want to live' once again we went to G Live, this year the atmosphere was even better and had so much more confidence in myself and couldn't wait to perform again with my school. When it came to announcing the results that night I was more nervous than I've ever been but in the end we managed to come out on top and win the Guildford heats! This meant we were able to go on to Portsmouth for the finals and being able to perform a piece I've never been more proud of. The day arrived for finals and the day consisted of stress, fun and laughter as we really needed to all work together as were going up some talented schools. Rehearsals went so well and we received so much support from everyone we all knew the performance in the evening would be great. Unfortunately we didn't place at the finals, but if it taught me one thing is that I have made so many friends and how much stronger of a team we had become and I had such an incredible experience being able to dance and choreograph the last 2 years.

I knew after leaving school I'd be upset about not being involved in Rock Challenge® anymore until I found out I could become a volunteer. I'd thought this would be the best experience for me and boost my confidence even more and it did! The people I got to work alongside with have become some of my best friends now and I can't wait to get back to volunteering with them. Becoming a volunteer has changed me and opened me up to more experiences I can get involved in.

That's been my Rock Challenge® experience so far!
Lots of RC love!

Chloe J

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Volunteering with Rock Challenge® helped me choose my career path...

In 2013, aged 14, I started volunteering for the UK Rock Challenge®. I decided to start volunteering because I loved coming to the event days with my school and I wanted to get more. Volunteering is such a fun thing to do for various reasons. Initially, it feels kind of weird because you can go through a whole Rock Challenge® day without having to rehearse or perform and despite this missing part, you still have just as much fun (if not more because there is less stress).

As a volunteer you have the benefit of being able to try your hand at many different jobs over the event days from being a runner to selling merchandise to looking after the judges and VIPs on the night, something that can definitely teach you a lot of these 'transferable skills' that guidance teachers like to speak about. It really increases your confidence and time management as well as giving you experience in working long hours in a fast paced environment. All of these things are super great for your CV or personal statement when applying to jobs and higher education. 

The variety and challenge of volunteering is further increased by the accreditation scheme which basically encourages you to fulfil many different roles as a volunteer. You have to have completed a range of tasks to achieve the bronze and silver levels and you can gain a gold award by planning something that 'goes the extra mile' for Rock Challenge®. I gained my bronze volunteer award in my first year of volunteering and just this year became one of the first volunteers in the country to achieve the silver accreditation levels, currently working on an idea to go the extra mile for gold! Having an achievement like that as a volunteer provides a clear distinction of your dedication to your voluntary work, another thing that helps on the employability front. 

Aside from the administrative benefits of getting involved with such an amazing cause, volunteering is super fun. You have the chance to make friends with so many people who also care about Rock Challenge® as much as you do, and are mad enough to travel all over the country to show that. You get to take part in the production meetings which is always really fun, especially Right Type of Mood and the craziness of stage craft and merchandise modelling. It's not often you find something so beneficial and unbelievably fun.

The more I volunteered, the more I wanted to be involved and I began to think how cool would it be if this was actually my job. It combines both organisational and business type skills along with theatre and it provides such an amazing opportunity to young people (as I know first-hand). I started looking into events degrees in Scotland and we went from there. Having the Rock Challenge® experience from volunteering was definitely a beneficial addition to my personal statement and along with my grades at school I was able to secure 5 unconditional offers and I now study Festival & Event and Marketing Management (BA Joint Honours) at Edinburgh Napier University. Currently in my second year and still volunteering for Rock Challenge®, I am grateful for the practical knowledge I have unconsciously gained through my involvement in the events and totally credit my involvement in Rock Challenge® for my choice of career and what helped me get into the course that will hopefully lead me into a happy events career, maybe one day with Rock Challenge®! Thank you to the Rock Challenge® crew for providing me with so many opportunities that have really shaped my life.

Big RC love, 

Katie D

Monday, 19 December 2016

My Rock Challenge® Experience

Hi all!

So I finally got round to writing a Rock Challenge® Blog, So let’s start with a little bit about my experience and how I got to become a RC Ambassador. I started at school, a little over 11 years ago now, as a back stage member. I watched my teachers, fellow students and team slowly bring this 8 minute performance to life and when I first got in to it, I thought, 8 minutes, how hard could it be? Well how wrong as I! Yes, 8 minutes, which took approx.. 8 months to create, from lighting design, video design, costume design, choreography, drama, backstage props and set elements, I never expected there to be so much involved and there was and whilst it seemed a staggering amount to do, the team pulled together and we created our first RC performance as a school. We were wholesomely proud; we took it to our local event at Grantham, where we watched seven other teams perform absolutely amazing pieces and had the time of our lives. We didn't win... or come close... but we didn't care, we took part and tried our best.

During my final year participating for Rock Challenge®, the RC team told us all about becoming a volunteer with RC and how to apply - The next year I volunteered at my local event, which I then volunteered at for three years (described as a "one hit wonder" by one of the Rock Challenge® team, which I thanked them for, despite being unsure if it was a compliment or not.. I think it was?) Last year, I branched out (yes, oooohhh branching out!) and volunteered at Grantham, Rotherham and Grimsby Northern Finals! This year, I am volunteering at six events across the UK over 14 days and am already more excited for them, than I am Christmas!

I hear you say... Why volunteer for Rock Challenge®? Why is it so good? Well, I'm oh so very glad you asked... During my time volunteering over the past 4 years with Rock Challenge® I've had the amazing opportunity to work with a team of professionals to produce events and meet some amazing people. From inspirational teachers to talented students, from the Rock Challenge® team to energetic volunteers. I've been given the chance to learn what goes into the production of the shows and everything that goes on behind the scenes to make Rock Challenge® such a fantastic experience overall and a fantastic day for everyone involved.

I think the best part of volunteering overall is the chance to see and be a part of how Rock Challenge® changes lives for the better. The events are essentially about reducing and stopping young people getting involved with drugs, alcohol and smoking. A scheme which is at the heart of everything the Rock Challenge® and Charity; Be Your Best Foundation does. Volunteering for Rock Challenge® is something I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who is interested in seeing how Rock Challenge® achieves this in such an awe-inspiring way.

Thanks for reading! I apologise for the mildly lengthy post and shall try to promise any and all future posts will be shorter... (Notice, the use of the word try.) 

Bye for now


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Meet Our Ambassadors ...

Robert (Bobby) Holmes
Bobby started his Rock Challenge® journey, performing with his local school and assisting the back stage team. He then progressed onto leading the stage crew, designing and building sets, costumes and organising all back stage elements for his schools productions. Not wanting to leave the Rock Challenge® family, Bobby opted to volunteer at his local events and has now decided to become a Rock Challenge® Ambassador. Bobby believes Rock Challenge® is a vital part of school life, which everyone should have the opportunity to experience and so wishes to use his new status as a Rock Challenge® Ambassador to promote the benefits of Rock Challenge® in his local area.