On 30 August this year, a group of ten cadets and staff from South East London Army Cadet Force set off for Scotland to take part in an adventurous training challenge unlike anything we had done before, Exercise Cockney Peak Venturer.
The challenge had two main aims;
a) For the team to complete the 3 Peaks Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon as fast as possible whilst giving the cadets an enjoyable mountain walking experience to further their cadet adventurous training.
b) To raise funds for ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity as part of wider fundraising efforts. The ABF give lifetime support to serving and retired soldiers and their families. So far we have raised over £2,500 for the ABF.
The challenge was designed to push the team both physically and mentally, provide leadership and teamwork experience, and reinforce outdoor skills such as navigation. The cadet team came from across South East London from Brixton to Biggin Hill and ranged in age from 13 to 18 years old. Some of the team had been to Snowdon before but not many had visited Scotland or the Lake District and so the exercise certainly opened up their eyes to other parts of the UK outside inner London.
The team completed the 3 Peaks in a respectable time of 36 hours. This was a great success given the age and experience of some of the team and also considering some nasty (character building) weather conditions encountered on Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike (cold, strong winds, mist and heavy rain). In addition to the physical effort and weather, the cadets had to overcome a lack of sleep and constant motion of the minibus between the 3 Peaks. However against this adversity, the cadets showed great determination and great morale and were a real credit to South East London Army Cadet Force.
This was the first time South East London Army Cadet Force had attempted such an ambitious Challenge. It was in many ways a pilot project and the team certainly gained some very valuable ideas for future events. Although the location may not have been as exotic as some adventurous expeditions, without a doubt the cadets certainly had a very challenging, different and rewarding adventure to add to their normal Army Cadet Force activities.
In all, this event achieved every intended goal. The experiences we had were beyond those gained through normal cadet adventurous training. Although drawn from different units within South East London Army Cadet Force the team members bonded well, learned new skills, and discovered a lot about themselves in the process.
We would like to thank everyone who helped to organise and support this event. We are especially grateful to the Ulysses Trust for awarding a grant that helped to pay for two mountain leaders who not only provided an excellent guiding service but also taught the cadets some valuable mountain walking skills. Overall Exercise Cockney Peak Venturer was a great success and a good model to build on for the future.