As everybody celebrated Easter, C Company Essex Army Cadet Force commenced Exercise Dragon Venturer in Gibraltar.
For 310 years Gibraltar has faced many challenges as our British Overseas Territory and for one week 40 Army Cadets and 14 instructors faced many of their own. The trip offered the cadets so much in terms of adventurous training, education and the opportunity to give back to that fantastic community.
Under the direction of Petty Officer James Simpson the cadets spent a day out on the waters of the Mediterranean. They had an exciting ride speeding around the bay before being offered the chance to be pulled along behind a power boat on an inflatable object. Cadets also experienced the joys of kayaking and rock climbing thanks to some of the Essex Army Cadet Force Adventurous Training instructors.
With the expert knowledge and guidance of Pete Jackson from Bland Group International the cadets went caving in Lower St Michael’s Cave. It is a magical cave with most known rock formations and is suspected to have been sealed for 20,000 years before being opened in World War Two. The opening was an accident whilst trying to extend a hospital within the tunnels and revealed huge caverns full of many wonders.
On a different day Pete took the cadets for a trek of the past around the western side of Gibraltar. The cadets were told and shown how the defensive gun positions were blasted into the face of the rock. Further into the town examples in developments of the cannon were indicated until they reached the famous 100 ton gun. The cadets swiftly moved on to a trek up the Mediterranean Steps, a trek which goes up and round the side of the rock with some amazing views. Once at the top the group moved down into the Ministry of Defence Tunnels for a tour of some of the less public areas. With some in depth history of how they were first mined and what they were used for through out the years.
On a day when not climbing the rock, tackling water, going into dark tunnels or seeing the native apes, the cadets went shopping around the local town to buy souvenirs of their time. The afternoon was then spent lapping up the sunshine enjoying one of Gibraltar’s sandy beaches.
The Army Cadet Force is not just about taking experiences it is about giving back. Whilst at the water sports some cadets and instructors cleared up 13 bags of rubbish from the waters edge and immediate area. On the final day of this epic camp all the cadets and instructors visited the main local Cemetery and spent hours cleaning up forgotten war graves. It was impressive to see the dedication and realisation upon the cadets faces and lovely to see the improvements they made.
The whole exercise was a massive success and could not have been achieved without funding from the Ulysses Trust.