Four seasons in one week maintained the ambitions of Ex Northern Jacobite Venturer. Temperatures of 20o C for the first few days gave way to wet and wintry by last day of the expedition. Our now annual Scottish exploit is in it’s 11th year and is successfully delivering all five phases of a cadet’s five year development plan.
Exercise Northern Jacobite Venturer is an ambitious multi activity week designed to give cadets from Giggleswick School the opportunity to produce a tangible outcome to the adventure training elements of their cadet experience. From this experience it is hoped that at least some will go on to satisfy their spirit of adventure in more distant and culturally distinct locations. ‘Expeditioning’ in March and April in wild areas of Scotland certainly exceeds the requirements of the D of E Awards and cadet syllabus and is made possible by the use of highly qualified and experienced instructors who can only be afforded through the generosity of the Ulysses Trust.
Cadets follow either a Silver (SMP) or Gold (WMP) training platform. The area available for these courses covers an area larger than Hong Kong and takes cadets into areas of Scotland where a sat-phone can be challenged to raise a signal. To our cadets the initial impact of the environment and the scale of hills surrounding Kinlochleven is quite intimidating and is often met with comments like “Sir, do you think we will make it up there?”
As a teacher of Geography it is great pleasure to have instructors commenting on how much they learn from the cadets:
“I’ve just had a Geography field trip with your Yr10s but could not tell them whether the mounds we walked over were ground moraine, kames or remains of a beaded esker. Can you please tell me what they are before we go out tomorrow?” said one while another learnt about mountains higher than Everest that used to tower above those we see today. Every day is a field trip. If the measure of education is what remains after you have left school, then these memories must be worth a great many hours in a classroom.
Other cadets recognised their location from other memories.
“Is this where Harry Potter was filmed?”
“They filmed Highlander next to the road there.”
“This was the drive to Skyfall.”
Without any prompting this large group of volunteer cadets was enthralled by their surroundings.
The mixed weather this year allowed a real abundance of frogs which fascinated many of the cadets. Small pools filled with spawn and tangled balls of frogs made it into many cameras, occasionally with a stag or distant bird of prey to make a back ground.
Parents are often anxious about putting their children on the coach and have slipped in additional care bundles to calm their own nerves in addition to those of the cadets. The atmosphere is very different at collection at the other end of the week.
“Did Will really manage to keep his room tidy?”
“I don’t believe he managed to pack his own bags, he normally can’t remember what goes in a pencil case”
“She managed to read a map?”
“I’ve seen her get lost on a train platform!”
And other similar comments are often offered when parents express their surprise at the independence and resilience shown by their children who often give the impression that they cannot be parted from consoles once they get home.
Physical ability, leadership and the desire to succeed are all intangible elements of the cadet experience that we hope can, in some way, be illustrated to a future employer by having a qualification such as the D of E Award and an experience such as that provided by Ex NJV. Without a curriculum vitae that stands out from the crowd a cadet may not get to an interview. It is only when in front of the interviewer that their soft skills and confidence often place cadets head and shoulders above the rest.
My hope is that at some point in the future this progressive training programme will generate a group of students who would wish to journey into even more adventure. So far there have been a few of the most able attendees who have gone on to alpine ascents, two have built on their experience to ascend Mt Kenya, 5 have now ‘expeditioned’ in South Africa whilst it is recognised that the challenge to merely wild camp for two nights is of equal demand for many.
- 6 cadets completed a WMF platform for Gold D of E training
- 23 cadets successfully completed an SMF platform in preparation for their Silver Assessment
- 7 cadets (2 groups) completed and passed their Gold D of E expedition.
- 6 adults successfully gained update and best practice training (incl snow awareness lecture and risk management) working with MICs.
- 1 cadet successfully ascended Tower Ridge and Aonach Eagach Ridge.
Lt Col Darren Richmond