Connecting with Carrick

Established in 2005, Adventure Centre for Education (ACE) is an independent charity based in Girvan which specialises in harnessing the power and energy of adventure sports to broaden visions and aspirations.

ACE offers a variety of opportunities for people to try adventure sports through initiatives such as apprenticeship schemes, trainee placements, work experience opportunities, volunteering and employment. 

In 2010, ACE was awarded £5000 from Carrick Futures towards a summer programme for adults called ‘Connecting with Carrick’.

The key aim of the programme was to encourage adults of all ages and abilities from Girvan and South Carrick to be inspired to take up outdoor activities and sports as hobbies or even become volunteers with ACE. 

Keen to engage as many local people as possible ACE publicised the project widely; via their website, by placing a promotional banner at Stumpy in the heart of town and putting up posters around local villages and factories. They also shared information about the programme via social media channels and in traditional local press.

The programme offered a wide range of activities from June to September (2011) at evenings and weekends, including; trail cycling, sea kayaking, hill walking, map reading and adventure swimming. They also introduced the new sport of stand up paddle boarding –which was a great success!

Participants were encouraged to challenge themselves by trying new activities and overcoming personal fears, and when they did, they experienced a great sense of achievement and pride in reaching their goals. 

What’s more, as well as meeting new people and exploring the outdoors, participants also enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of stimulating outdoor activities.  

Joanne Russell, said “Thank you again ACE for a great day Gorge walking. What a great thing to do on a Sunday! Great scenery, great company and great fun!”

Sixty-six people took part in ‘Connecting with Carrick’ in total; eighty per cent of spaces were filled by people from KA26 with the remainder being taken up by people from the surrounding villages and towns including Maybole, Kirkmichael, Crosshill, Ayr and Troon.

Jenny and her husband, who are in their sixties, were so inspired by their stand up paddle boarding experience that they went on to buy their own boards. Another family from Barrhill, also encouraged by the programme, have joined their local kayaking club and now take part in the activities regularly as a family.

Five other participants have taken up volunteering with ACE, with one going on to gain coaching qualifications. 

The project has undoubtedly helped ACE continue to work towards creating an outdoor culture in the local area – encouraging adults to take up outdoor activities and lead healthier, active lifestyles. 

What’s more, through outdoor sports, ACE wants to help stimulate the growth of a thriving tourism industry, which will help bring employment and economic benefits to the area. 

In partnership with other agencies and local community groups, ACE has already shown that adventure sports can bring about positive change in people’s lives. 

Chris Saunders, ACE manager and instructor said, “This was a great opportunity for ACE to highlight and promote the diversity of adventure sports that can be undertaken in this part of Scotland for local people. We wanted to highlight that the adventure activities we have on offer were not just for local young people but are for people of all ages. This funding helped broaden local people’s horizons, raised our organisations profile and inspired more people to get out and enjoy our great environment. By having more local people undertaking these activities we have inspired more visitors to the area to undertake activities with ACE. The wider impact of this is that with a greater flow of people to the area there is increased visitor spend in other businesses. This could not have been achieved without the support of Carrick Futures.”