On the 24th August 2018, Derbyshire Army Cadet Force set out for their first overseas canoeing expedition, lasting until September 2nd.
I would firstly like to thank the Ulysses Trust for their funding help and making this incredible experience happen, giving us the opportunity to test new waters (literally) and an exciting journey with so many young achievers.
As a group of individuals, every one of us would have benefited in slightly different ways, and of course also as a collective group. For me personally, I benefited massively from the experience in dealing with the challenging rapids, something that I wasn’t 100% on before the expedition after only experiencing lesser on the River Severn earlier on in the year. During the course of our expedition there were many opportunities to perfect our communication skills as a team and individually when judging the rapids and to analyse what worked best for us on different levels of rapids and weirs.
The groups have benefited from this exercise as a whole by completing the expedition phase of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh scheme, and of course 10 days in the South of France doesn’t sound too bad to anyone. The week was a challenge itself with regards to climate, culture and the expedition itself. It is not very often in the UK you have to worry about sunstroke and temperatures reaching above 30, yet this was the main concern whilst we were away. This resulted in our pre-expedition shopping trip being focused on bottled water, factor 50 sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. The language barrier was again a challenge that we took head-on when in France, proving difficult during meal times and the pre-expedition shopping trip. However, as a collective group we bunched together our knowledge of French from over the years and pulled through.
This expedition has made such a difference with the way that other Cadets and parents see the Cadet Force It shows everybody the experiences and opportunities that can arise if the time and effort is taken to make it happen. It also shows parents that these opportunities can be for people of all different backgrounds and financial statuses with people such as the Ulysses Trust and their input resulting in the cost of only £80.00 per person for what could be considered an amazing adventure (and for some, it was their first time out of the UK / in France).
Cdt RSM Charli-Jo Harrison-Smith