It really was the best time of my life - I'm not just saying that either!
Firstly we completed our mountian leader training in Wales, 10 days of hill walking, navigation and leading - taught by fantastic and knowledgable instructors. We had a great bunkhouse all to ourselves, 15 mins away from the base of Snowdonia. Although the training is normally reserved for those that have 3 weeks prior experience, due to the fact that we are completing this ELT course, Gapforce have an exemption. It's definitely a worthwhile and fun part of the trip!
We then headed off to Costa Rica for jungle training, Colin, Jade and Elliot teaching us how to master living and surviving in the harsh environment of a real jungle - learning anything from the basics - lighting fires and using our machetes properly, to more advanced survival training - building beds and shelters from all natural materials. Being in a jungle is not something I had ever done but really liked it, seeing all the fauna and flora, sleeping in a hammock every night and cooking on an open fire. We also completed extensive medical training, Jade running through basic and wilderness first aid, including scenarios that became more elaborate as our knowledge increased, including killer bees, machete killers and falling off cliff sides - all great experience and training, in situ to help replicate real-life situations.
The next stage was to head off to Nicaragua and recce the country, a very important part of expedition leading. We headed off in small teams and a budget and had to decide what activities, sights and places to complete for a 10 day adventure of the country! The teams then came together to pick the best bits from each team's adventure and then duely completed it ourselves. This allowed us the freedom to interact and see the country through our own eyes, picking out sections that we thought would be great to see and do, whilst also learning what it is to recce a area/country
Other individual parts that stand out were the night of cave rescue, river crossings, R&R canyoning and the basics of bicycle and kayaking were all extraordinary fun and great learning experiences.
The personal development runs highly as well, with regular feedback sessions and ways to improve your personal performance, skills improvement and leadership styles/models.
It is expensive, which was a major drawback for me, taking a long time to decide whther to go ahead with it. But with the intensive daily training, budget for accomodation and food, once the first day of the course rolls on, you don't really think about the money anymore - it's all about completing something that most people wouldn't even think of doing.