Having waited for nine months for the trip to go ahead, 3 staff and 30 cadets made it to the Ogwen Valley during the week of 25 – 30 November 2012. There was bad weather forecast for the first four days and floods and snow predicted!
With a packed program ahead the cadets were put into three groups where, after gathering their personal kit, were taken outside and practiced their night navigation in the Ogwen Valley. With rain hitting the ground, even the roads were like rivers, a nice welcome to Wales weather was received by the group. This was just the first night
Monday morning saw the three groups go their separate ways: group 3 had the chance to go mining down a slate mine, group 2 went Kayaking and the group 1 started their two day one night expedition. Weather forecast not good – in fact there were flood warnings in place for the whole of North Wales. During the day groups 2 and 3 excelled in learning new skills and putting these to the test, with group 2 shooting some good rapids and group 3 using a Postman walk to cross a very deep lagoon.
Tuesday arrived and so did the snow. Group 1 would come back from its expedition and group 2 would be travelling out. Group 3, however had the task of taking to the water in Kayaks on Mymbyr and then, due to high water, they had a play on the small rapid at Plas y Brenin. Most of the cadets in the group had no prior experience of Kayaking and with developing skills on Mymbyr they were confident to have a go more than once. Group 3 got back to the Ogwen valley and saw Group 1 arrive back from their expedition tired and wet all they said was that they needed a hot shower and a meal.
Wednesday morning came and the sun had decided to come out. This was great for group 3 as it was their expedition walk out, group 1 would be kayaking and group 2 would be walking back. Group 3 met group 2 looking tired and very muddy, but in good spirits. Group 3 walked on and made it to Tythe Barn a grade 2 listed building in good time to collect wood for the fire and to cook a really nice MOD boil in the bag! After this a night navigation exercise was planned.
Thursday, was an even better day for group 3. Warm sunshine and a scramble and trek up a peak close to Cym Buchan, with a walk into the valley and home. All groups met up for the evening meal and they all looked tired after a hard but enjoyable week. The cadets put on a slide show for the evenings entertainment and then it was time for everybody to de-kit and pack their bag for the journey home in the morning.
The majority of the cadets on this experience come from underprivileged backgrounds. The full cost to the cadet was £280 per cadet which is beyond the means of many of the families. As a result of the grant from Ulysses Trust, The Berlin Infantry Bde Memorial Trust Fund and a contribution fron CCF funding we were able to significantly reduce this to an affordable level. This type of opportunity has a huge impact on the lives of our young people. Few of them would ever get this type of opportunity were it not offered by the school / cadets.
This was a fantastic opportunity which I know has developed their personal, social and emotional well-being, as well as enhancing their leadership and teamwork skills and raising their aspirations. It helps to level the playing field with more advantaged young people when it comes to jobs and university applications.