1337 – ‘Cockney Venturer Invicta’ – Snowdonia National Park

Just before dusk on Friday 24th August 2012 a contingent of excited and enthusiastic cadets, from Greater London South East Sector, and adults arrived at Capel Curig Training Camp for a week’s worth of challenging and adventurous activities. They arrived with the aims ‘to successfully complete a Summer Mountain Foundation course for Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and to provide a simulating, safe and exciting environment for Two Star Level and above cadets to expand their Adventurous Training knowledge’.

Over the week the cadets were given the opportunity to participate in coasteering, gorge walking, hill walking and rock climbing (unfortunately the kayak and canoe instructors pulled out at the last moment).

Adventure training is a fundamental experience provided by the Army Cadet Force which, due to finance and the area situated, is all too often overlooked. With this in mind and after the initial challenge of planning, the week was accomplished. The challenge was to inspire young people to participate in adventure training. Once the gauntlet had been thrown down they were eager to accept. The cadet’s reactions changed with each activity, some were, at first, unsure about certain activities while others ‘jumped’ at each opportunity. The passion and awe that each returned with at the end of each day demonstrated that the instructors were inspiring each and every cadet, including those that were uncertain. Cadet Torbarski commented, ‘I have gained new experiences, which I enjoyed very much. I would like to do more in the future’, while Cadet Toovey was overjoyed when she ‘conquered my fear of heights and open water which I never thought I could’.

Occasionally, and as expected, several cadets would murmur their displeasure at ‘having to walk up a mountain’ or ‘jump in and out of cold water,’ but by the end of each activity these murmurs had changed and the cadets were exhilarated and gleefully reciting the stories of the day.

Each activity was carefully decided upon to enhance the cadet’s experience of adventurous training. Hill walking is often seen as the basis of much of the cadet’s experience. However, during annual camps and weekend training much of the walking that the cadets participate in is low level and for the more senior it is often unchallenging. For this reason it was essential to incorporate hill walking, due to the nature of Snowdonia, the exciting and challenging walks that could be experienced while developing the participant’s navigational knowledge. The comments from the cadets, after the initial ‘my feet hurt,’ were of achievement and excitement. For the majority of the cadets this was their first experience of hill walking out of Kent or Sussex.

Rock climbing was chosen due to the natural progression from artificial climbing to climbing on natural rock. Unfortunately it was not always possible to climb outdoors due to the weather. The cadets participated in rock climbing twice, which enabled them to see the progression they had made. The cadets embraced the challenge to improve and several would boast about the fact they improved.

Gorge walking and coasteering were chosen because they are challenging, exciting and rewarding activities. The participants really encompassed the challenge; many of them overcame fears or worries by partaking in the activities. Cadet Lance Corporal Jackson ‘believed that I wouldn’t have been able to overcome my fear of heights, but I’d love to coasteer again.’ This shows that the cadets overcame fears and enjoyed the activities.

The Summer Mountain Foundation course was successful and simulating for the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers who participated. The course helped inspire several adults, who are now well on their way to completing mountain qualifications. This will enable them to motivate other adults and cadets in the future.

The week was a resounding success with Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and cadets alike all finding inspiration towards the activities partaken and adventure in its entirety. Lance Corporal Clarke suggested that ‘to inspire yourself, you need to inspire others,’ which embodies the overarching aim for the week. Since returning to London several Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and cadets have expressed an interest in adventurous training courses and qualifications. Needless to say that this would not have been possible without the generous grant from the Ulysses Trust.

With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

In partnership with:

Nuffield Trust