Cadets from 46F Kensington Air Cadets took to the Scottish Highlands for a week of action packed adventure training. To help fund the camp cadets helped Christmas shoppers pack their bags at the local Sainsbury’s store on Cromwell Road, as well as the generous grant awarded by the Ulysses Trust and donations made by the cadets and their parents.
For most of these young cadets it was their first time in Scotland. We stayed at Norwegian Lodge high in the Cairngorms mountain range. Each day was filled with a different and challenging outdoor activity such as orienteering, mountain walking, swimming, cycling, gorge walking, rock climbing and abseiling, all in all a fantastic and varied week for the young Londoners.
The aim of the exercise was to encourage and promote personal qualities such as character, leadership and initiative. This was recapped day to day by everyone discussing the highlights, the lessons learnt and what they all took from the experience going into the next day.
Each evening the cadets would prepare for next day’s activity, getting their equipment ready and packing their day bags. The remote location and lack of cellular connectivity was an opportunity for everyone to rediscover the pleasure of board games and cards but more importantly engaging with your team both whilst at work but out of hours too.
A team of local Ex-RAF Mountain Instructors who have all, wisely, remained in Scotland after retiring from the Service to be near the mountains and lochs that provide such a wealth of adventure training opportunities aided the Squadron with expert guidance and leadership.
Given the wild country location of the camp, we also set off a group of 6 older and more experienced cadets to complete their Gold Duke of Edinburgh qualifying expedition. For this the group planned and walked a route in the Cairngorm Mountains over 4 days, spending 3 nights out-doors. The group were completely self sufficient and thoroughly enjoyed their experience, one of the participants Cadet Warrant Officer Butler said “the surroundings were tranquil and mesmerizing and the team were fabulous”. Making camp in a remote bothy, after a long day of hiking, cooking an evening meal and settling down for a night in the mountains was an enjoyable and lasting memory.
There were many highlights to the week. Cadets took part in many activities that were new to them; they learnt many skills and overcame physical and personal challenges. Not least amongst these was the very cold mountain water gushing down during the gorge walk and the high jump into a rock pool at the end, along with the early morning mountain runs every day.
The rock climbing, on the Moray Firth coastline, provided a glance of seals and dolphins out in the bay, and we struck very lucky to have a fantastic view of 2 RAF Tornados taking off from RAF Lossiemouth just a stone’s throw away from the rock face. This was very exciting for us all, even those halfway up the rock face hanging on whilst enjoying the thunderous noise from the fast jet’s engines.
The lessons weren’t limited to the outdoors. By spending a week together, within the lodge, the team of cadets and staff were engaged in daily ‘community living’ tasks. These tasks included such things as organising a menu, cooking, cleaning and generally managing the lodge and our equipment. This enabled everyone to not only live together harmonically but also function as an effective team. The team met deadlines, maintained standards and equipment and more importantly helped and looked out for each other.
By the end of the exercise cadets had developed their skills to meet physical, managerial, technical and organisational challenges. It proved to be an exciting and challenging activity that enhanced their self-sufficiency and effectiveness, both as individuals but also as a team. This will serve them well during their time with the Air Cadets and in the longer term in the work place.
Highland Fling enabled a group of cadets from London to experience the wilds of Scotland. The journey itself opened their outlook (for some it was the first time they had seen mountains) in their country and the possibilities of adventure within our own shores.
The entire team of cadets and staff from 46F (Kensington) Squadron, Air Training Corps would like to thank our supporters for our memories of Exercise Highland Fling 2014.