This was going to be my first trip away with the CCF. I have only recently joined the CCF and jumped at the opportunity to go on the canoe /kayak expedition to the South of France. All the cadets gathered at school on the 8th and said their goodbyes to parents. The journey was fairly uneventful but long. We had a great time on the ferry as we had 1-½ hours to find things to do.
In France we drove all the way through the night getting some sleep; but not a lot. When we arrived we were immediately instructed to start putting up the tents, the most important one being the cook tent. Once we were set up we all had a chance to explore the campsite, which was a little strange as we were the only ones on the site.
After a rest we were rounded up by the instructors, to ensure we had all the correct equipment and then told what would be happening during the week. On the first day we had to travel to a lake as the water levels were too high in the river for beginners. The lake day was great fun, kayaking, canoeing and being introduced to stand up paddle boarding.
The next two days we were able to use the river next to the campsite, which was great, as we didn’t have to travel anywhere. These two days were the best. We continued to learn basic skills but also had the chance to develop our skills going through a grade 2 rapid. Most of us at some point during the two days fell out of our boats much to the amusement of others in our group.
The final two days gave us a different challenge. We were able to choose between kayak and canoe for the river journeys. I chose kayak, as this is my favourite. The first day was about 21 km, which felt like a long day. Near the end we came across a weir, which the instructors decided was not safe for us to go down. So we had to get out and carry our boats further down stream where it was safe. By the end of the day we were all tired but had a great feeling as we had achieved what we thought was a tough day of paddling.
The last day was a little shorted about 8km. But we focused on more skills and found some great waves to learn how to surf.
Overall this was a fantastic week for all the cadets. I especially enjoyed it as I was the senior cadets and had the job of organising the junior cadets in the morning and when we were back in camp in the afternoon. The great thing is I passed my 1 star award.
I certainly hope Lt Col Balmbra organises another trip like this, as I will definitely put my name down.
Report written by Natalie, a Cadet with Ratcliffe College CCF.