I met the Rockley team at the Southampton boat show last September and I mentioned that I was looking for a way to become an instructor. They pointed me to the Leap for Success course - it offered everything I was looking for plus guaranteed employment so I felt as though it was the best way for me to spend my gap year. All the people that I met were super friendly and they emphasised the importance of a family feel within the company which made me want to be a part of it.
I didn’t feel quite ready to go to university and I had goals I wanted to achieve before settling back into education. Taking a gap year was the best decision I’ve made so far!
Pretty much! Tiring, busy and so so fun. I didn’t expect to become as close as I did with all the other Leapers- we became such good friends. It was hard to say goodbye when most of the group left for France.
Definitely passing the instructor courses. After so much effort and many aching muscles it was so satisfying for it all to have paid off!
I started sailing when I was nine but had done mostly yacht sailing including doing my day skipper qualification and competing in a transatlantic tall ships race but doing the course allowed me to go back into dinghy sailing which was something I’d been wanting to do for ages.
Definitely. I’m planning on joining the sailing team at university and then hopefully using my qualifications to work abroad over the summer!
It’s always fun because everyone is so close and we all get on because we’re all here with the same shared interests. I’m going to be sad to leave at the end of the season for sure.
My confidence generally, let alone as an instructor, has grown massively this year. Being an instructor has definitely helped me so much though; I used to be so scared of speaking in front of groups and teaching but now I find it so much easier and it comes more naturally- the difference is unreal.
I’ve learned a lot about teaching methods, not only through the courses but also by being on session with so many different instructors. I’ve been able to watch how the others work and incorporate their good ideas into what I do, it’s been such a good way to learn! I’ve also managed to improve in my free time as when there’s wind and water we tend to go out sailing or windsurfing in the evenings or on days off to have fun and improve for ourselves.
Absolutely, it’s done me so much good to be pushed out of my comfort zone and because of that I know I’ve developed massively as an instructor but also just as myself. It definitely makes me happy to think back to how I felt on the first day compared to now, I can honestly tell you that I’ve come a long way since then!
I started back in 2012.
I am now a Dinghy Instructor, Windsurf Instructor, Powerboat Instructor and Senior Instructor.
I have worked in France and the UK at Rockley Point, La Rive and AzuRivage.
I love the teaching aspect of working for Rockley, the fantastic people I work with each season and just generally being outdoors.
My advice would have to be jump in and fully commit yourself and you will never look back with regret.
Top tip 1: Don't listen to Kat when she says it is always sunny in South West France (it's definitely NOT always sunny!). Top tip 2: Pack a spare toothbrush as they go walkies in a tent very easily!
The plan is hopefully to become a teacher
I have learnt that I have a love for the outdoors/watersports (with the exception of surfing, which is a sport designed to get me beaten up by waves) and a love for teaching. I now know how to work a washing machine (and also how to fix one when it breaks), and what it feels like to be part of a work place family.
I like working for Rockley because you get to meet so many new people and teach your passion to the next generation, encouraging them to take it up.
Rockley push you to your full potential by offering training to develop your skills in teaching.
From working this season with Rockley some tips I would give would be make your tent homely, keep an open mind about what to expect and be motivated and enthusiastic about what you're teaching.
My future plans are to work another season at Rockley then go travelling around the world teaching in a variety of places, hopefully ending up in Australia.
From working with Rockley I've developed my self confidence, being more vocal and showing myself that I can do things if I put my mind to it.
I was in Year 11 and was struggling with school, I spoke to the Rockley BTEC Course Coordinator who gave me a chance to join the course. I was given a term to prove myself as I didn't match the requirements to join the course normally.
I first went out to work for Rockley in 2014 as part of my work experience while on the BTEC course. After I graduated I went out to do my first full season in 2015 at La Rive as an activity instructor.
This year I was a centre senior at La Rive.
Go in open minded and be willing to learn from people with more experience. Never worry as everything has an answer and a solution. Most importantly HAVE FUN! If you aren't having fun there isn't much point in doing the job!
My favourite Rockley memory is from 2016. After a hard week with a school with younger children I received a letter from the school and the children thanking me and saying how I changed their outlooks on life. They said they will go into everything happier and have more fun with everything they do.
I first became involved with Rockley by deciding to do the Level 3 BTEC qualification. It was a fantastic course, that I didn't know existed at first, that gave me so much experience and qualifications.
Through Rockley I have gained my Windsurf Instructor, Powerboat Level 2, First Aid and Assistant Dinghy Instructor.
This year I worked at Le Lac in France as a Windsurf Instructor.
Personally I would highly recommend getting involved in the watersports industry. You gain a massive amount of experience and make lifelong memories, especially if you work for Rockley!
In 5 years time I can see myself working at a secondary school teaching PE as well as keeping up my passion for windsurfing.
I started working for Rockley in 2013 as a courier at AzuRivage.
Through Rockley I have gained my Powerboat Level 2, Dinghy Instructor, Day Skipper Theory, Safety Boat, Windsurf Instructor and Senior Instructor.
My advice would be you really have to give it your all and work hard. Sometimes it can take a while to see results but it's worth it! Some of the most challenging situations have the most rewarding outcomes.
This season I was the Assistant Manager at AzuRivage.
Before Rockley I was at Hartpury College studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Outdoor Adventure. The course was perfect to set me up for a career in the industry. It consisted of a 50/50 split between theory and practical, then the practical was split into water based and land based. Before the course at Hartpury I had no prior experience in any water sports. Over the two years at college I gained a very well rounded basic knowledge base of the industry and also a very good set of skills, especially in the water sports. By the end of the second year I was a qualified paddle sports instructor with skill levels in windsurfing ready to go for my Windsurf Instructor. The summer term of the second year of college consisted of a work experience unit. This involved going out into the industry and doing a summer season based at a water sports or multi activity centre. A few large companies work closely with Hartpury and interview for job positions. Luckily I was offered a job with Rockley and jumped to say yes to the opportunity of a summer season of water sports at the stunning Rockley centre AzuRivage in the south west of France! I’ve had the most amazing 4 summer seasons with the fourth just drawing to a close, and the next can’t come around soon enough!
The summer of 2014 was when I joined Rockley, I arrived in France in April and left in September. My first job role was as an activity instructor. I assisted on sessions to start off with, not being confident enough to lead them myself as an inexperienced instructor. After the first month of the season my confidence and competence as an instructor grew massively and I began to lead sessions, such as kayaking, windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding. All sports I was qualified in as a coach. For the first half of the season unfortunately I was un-qualified in sailing so was taking no part in assisting the dinghy or catamaran sessions. Being at Rockley however, surrounded by a team of sailing instructors offered me a great opportunity to learn to sail having free use of the kit and friends to coach me. By the second half of the season though I was fortunate to achieve my assistant instructor, this opened up the opportunity for me to also assist on the sailing sessions which was great!
Four seasons later! This season I was at Le Lac, another centre in a beautiful setting. I was a bit sceptical of being at Le Lac to begin with, having done my previous three seasons at AzuRivage. Now however I wouldn’t be able to choose between the two! My job role this season was the Beach Supervisor. So that put me as a member of the management team supporting the Activity Manager with many different aspects of his job role wherever I could. This included boat and kit maintenance, the coaching and also development of the staff team, the co-ordination of sessions and timings, just to name a few! Also part of my job role would be to support the Centre Manager with other aspects of the centre such as the Rockley BTEC work experience students that come out to France and being of help wherever I could. Being on the senior team also means I do a duty day, this is one day a week where we manage the everyday running of the centre to make sure everything happens smoothly and to solve any problems.
As advice I would say gain skill, experience and knowledge! Go out into the industry and be happy starting just as an instructor and work your way up from that. There is so much to learn about the various water sports, whether that’s your personal skills, your coaching skills or your knowledge base. The more experience you gain, the more you will personally improve. When I started I had next to no experience, but by working alongside other instructors, taking part in as many personal training courses as I could I’ve moved up and naturally developed the skills for a more senior position. Another piece of advice I would give is to have drive! Always drive to be the best instructor you can be, try to deliver the best possible coaching you can and visualise where you want to end up. For example, in the future I’d like to be a centre manager, but by gaining the knowledge and experience I have, and am still gaining, I hope in the future I will have naturally developed to be well rounded in that job role.
It’s impossible to give you one favourite memory! I have so many amazing memories of my seasons in France, your centre team becomes like a family and it becomes impossible not to enjoy yourself! I can list a few however; one of my top memories has to be a ski trip we went on in montage this season. We were based down at AzuRivage which is only a hour or two from the Pyrenees mountain range, montage is early on in the season so snow was still on the mountains. We found a fairly local resort, got up about 5:30 in the morning packed the car and drove down to the Pyrenees spending an amazing day skiing up the mountains in some amazing snow. We then headed back to AzuRivage where the sun was blazing and we had an amazing BBQ after an amazing day on the mountains! Fetes are also one to remember! Each local town in the area of France where Rockley operate will have a fete in the middle of the summer; the whole town will shut down and then come alive in the evenings, with rides, stages and partying in the street. Some of the nicest nights in France I’ve had though have just been with the whole staff team just chilling out and watching the sunset down on the pontoon that goes out into the lake at AzuRivage. The sunsets over the lake are beautiful! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset like the ones we get in France back home in the UK.
When did you first start working for Rockley?
My first season was in June 2015.
What qualifications have you gained through Rockley?
I have achieved my Multi hull Instructor, Senior Instructor and RYA Safety Boat qualifications with Rockley.
What is your favourite Rockley memory?
My favourite memory so far at Rockley was either teaching Kelsey, a blind boy who loves outdoor activities and really wanted to get out on the water and learn how to sail, and also blasting around the lake with Maisie and Sam!
When I was younger, I used to sail a 505 dinghy with my dad at our local reservoir, Rutland Water. School then took over a little bit and sailing took a back step. I studied my A-Levels and then had a year of working in a restaurant as I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I then saw that Rockley was doing a Cadetship course which offered 3 instructor qualifications and 3 months’ work experience. I jumped at this opportunity as I thought this would be perfect to get me back into the hobby that I loved and gain a career from it.
After gaining my qualifications at Rockley Point in England, my first bit of instructing was at Rockley's 'Le Lac' centre in France. Firstly I was tasked with helping the more experienced DI's and WI's in their sessions, but once I then gained my confidence and was happy with how the centre ran, I was then tasked with running my own sessions.
Throughout the two and a half years I worked with Rockley, the water based qualifications I have gained are, Dinghy Instructor, Multihull Instructor, Windsurf Instructor, Powerboat instructor, Safety Boat Instructor and Senior Instructor. The shore based qualifications I gained were Day Skipper Theory and my First Aid certificate.
After leaving Rockley, I worked for a charity in London called the AHOY Centre. Here, I was their Senior Instructor and was in charge of their 8-18 year old youth group and their Sailability project. This gave me so much experience not only on the water, but it gave me managerial experience on land too.
After one year in this job, I then moved to the other side of the country and joined a similar Charity in Plymouth called Horizons. Here I am their Chief instructor and I oversee all that happens on the water and also run and manage their youth group.
Don't ever give up. There is always going to be the time when you are at the bottom of the hierarchy and you might think that you are stuck in a hole with no hope of progression, but if you really want it, you will get it. There are so many opportunities to progress in the industry, it’s just a matter of choosing the correct path for you. It is such a close nit friendly community that everybody is willing to help you.
I went to Hartpury College and studied Outdoor Education. I was also working on the family farm (ooo arhh)
PB2, DI, multihull and SI
This year I will be managing the La Rive centre.
Getting my SI and doing the 0-hero DI course
So before Rockley, I studied outdoor adventure at Plumpton agricultural college.
My first job role was as a Kayak and MTB Instructor.
Through Rockley I have gained my RYA dingy instructor, windsurf instructor, sailing instructor and multi-hull instructor.
Take sun cream - it gets hot! Listen to your mum you don't need 20 T-shirts, and always wear shoes (especially at Azur). Be prepared to have the best time of your life and make some amazing new friends that you will still talk to 6 years later.....
Passing my senior instructor course was probably the proudest moment for me. Aafter working towards it for a few season finally seeing them tick the pass box was truly amazing.
Becoming Activity Manager. The role I had aspired to be since my first season becoming the first female chief in a while is a proud moment for me!
I first got involved with Rockley when I was 13. I went to La Rive with Hove Park School on a trip and from then I wanted to become an Instructor. I then went to Plumpton College after finding out I could get placement through Plumpton for Rockley and achieved my UKCCL1.
My first Job role was an Activity Instructor, focusing more on mountain biking and kayaking on my first season.
The qualifications I have gained from Rockley is my PB2 and my Dinghy Instructor, I hope to achieve my Senior Instructor shortly.
My role this year is a Centre Senior at Le Lac
In 5 years’ time I hope to still be travelling around gaining experience and using the qualifications I have gained through Rockley. I also hope to have a permanent job somewhere in the world which means I’ll be able to make a life for myself while staying in the outdoor education industry.
I went to the University of Wales Aberystwyth – HSBC Zoology 2 but have also done various other jobs including – Parcel Force Driver and Abbey National Express Service Assistant.
Dinghy instructor, windsurf instructor, PB2, VHF, sea survival.SI, windsurfing intermediate planning instructor, powerboat instructor. MIAS level 2 instructor, SUP level 1 instructor. IOSH H&S managing safety.
I started as a Dinghy and Windsurf Instructor at la Rive and have been Assistant Manager and Manager at all three centres. I am now Operations Manager for all 3.
To use all opportunities that arise. Get qualifications in multiple discipline sports and experience as much as you can even at another company. Put 100% in everything you do as you will get great results and be seen to want more, therefore getting more responsibility and trusted to move up positions!