Twenty personnel from Sherborne School CCF visited the stunning Hardanger region of Norway for a week of adventure training, culture and education to embrace the Nordic concept of friluftsliv – open-air living. We stayed in the village of Osa at the end of the 170Km long Hardangerfjord. Our guides were inspirational and had built the basecamp facilities themselves following a career in the military. During our stay we were shown how to light fires safely, tie a variety of knots, recognise edible plants and insects, and generally learning how to survive in nature.
We hiked along some amazing trails and despite the warm weather and continual blue skies we saw plenty of snow which meant there was an abundance of water in the many waterfalls we saw. All the cadets were blown away with their surroundings and the direction from the school CCF staff to ensure mobile devices were stowed away unless to take photographs was met with little dissent. Having visited Norway previously with cadets, we really saw the benefit of friluftsliv and wanted this latest batch of cadets to embrace it, which they did. We also had a number of surprisingly deep discussions with the cadets about how embracing this concept can be beneficial when facing the pressures of exams, the workplace and social media. The official aim of the trip was for our cadets to develop self-reliance, resilience, and teambuilding; all of which we achieved.
Our days were packed with activities ranging from hiking, kayaking, glacier walking, to talks from the guides about the history of the region. Our cadets were fascinated to hear our guides explain about the area’s military history ranging from Viking times, the British blockade during the Napoleonic Wars, to the sinking of German cargo ships during World War 2 and subsequent reprisals by the German fleet on the locals. We visited Europe’s largest mountain plateau – the Hardangervidda – and were told about the heroes of Telemark. In terms of sightseeing the majestic 182 metre waterfall, Voringfossen, was a highlight. Our guides also took us in the tunnels which were painstakingly constructed using dynamite to exploit Norway’s hydro-electric potential. On a couple of occasions our cadets washed in the shallow river which boasts Europe’s cleanest drinking water (we discovered a better known brand is only 177th cleanest but has better marketing!). The trip was tiring for the cadets with long days in the outdoors. They did not complain, but it was clear they were tired after a long term and then a physically arduous trip. Nevertheless, they were genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to visit Norway, and many stated their eagerness to return, with some even professing a desire to live and work there.
When we had free time in the evening we went for a walk to a stunning waterfall with one cadet remarking he was:
‘happy to be here rather than watching Love Island.’
Perhaps there is no greater compliment amongst this generation!
The success of this trip will have many bonuses for our CCF. It will hopefully encourage other cadets to sign up for CCF trips, which face fierce competition from other school trips, and take place in school holidays, which mean because we are a boarding school many cadets and their parents are keen that the cadets return home rather than go on CCF trips. For the cadets on the trip, they will further recognise the benefit of continued service in the CCF and can put their skills and attitude to good effect with the other cadets in future years.