Canford School CCF has been embarking for a number of years on a cross-country skiing expedition to Norway on what is described by all who go, as the toughest and the best trip the School offers. This year saw another twenty-four cadets, a fifth of our year 10s aged 14 to 15, challenging themselves in an alien environment, learning a completely new skill and then testing themselves, often to the limit, physically and mentally, on a three-day ski-touring expedition. In order to increase the numbers benefitting from this outstanding experience, a further seven cadets from Bradfield College CCF were invited to join the group. The life skills learned and personal challenges overcome are all enormously beneficial to each individuals’ long-term education, whilst the experience itself will live long in their memories. The expedition is not selective and the weakest applicants invariably learn the most and benefit hugely. This year we were able to include two cadets who are on large/full bursaries at the School courtesy of the Ulysses Trust, the Connaught Trust and grants from a School trust fund.
The whole team; instructors, school staff and cadets would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ulysses Trust for their generous (and continued) support for the expedition, making it that much more accessible to all cadets at Canford.
“On the first day, I was expecting to be absolutely knackered by the end of the day as I thought we would be straight in the deep end, however we were eased into it well. We achieved 7km because we spent most of the day getting the technique right. I enjoyed seeing everyone get to grips with the skiing because most us hadn’t skied much. All of us falling over was quite funny.”
“I expected it to be really hard and completely different to downhill skiing which I do every year, but when we first started I was shocked at how much easier it was than I thought. The funniest thing was when we all kept falling over: it was hilarious.”
“We continued to learn to ski with slightly less falls. My favourite part was going off-piste as the snow was really soft, and we had a great snowball fight. I also enjoyed learning to build emergency shelters.”
“On the second day we achieved 11km. We spent this time doing more skills like different methods of moving uphill, for example herringbone. I enjoyed starting to build the pace and falling over like the previous day.”
“I found it easier to balance as I had learned the technique of it. I managed to ski downhill which is harder than on downhill skis. I enjoyed the rush of air as I went downhill. Learning about the emergency bivvies was particularly interesting. And it made me laugh how when we did the slalom everybody kept on doing the splits accidentally.”
“We learnt to search for an avalanche victim which is really useful for skiing in the future as well as building a different type of emergency shelter and practising our skiing.”
“It was different with the big bag on your back and lots more people were falling over, so it was very funny. We also did a find the transceiver exercise and it was very funny to watch as the group just could not find the transceiver.”
“We built a snow shelter and the techniques involved were really interesting and it was interesting at how hard it was to destroy afterwards. I really enjoyed probing the snow to find Flora.”
“The first day of the expedition was horrible. It [the terrain?] couldn’t decide whether it was going up or down and my hip belt kept loosening so all the weight of my pack was on my shoulders. I got really cold in the evening and had to spend two hours in the hut (shivering all the time).”
“The first day of the expedition was amazing and it’s a day I will remember for the rest of life. The experience to sleep in a snow hole with all of your mates is an amazing experience. We made the snow hole in three hours and at the end of it we all felt exhausted and ready for a good night sleep – luckily, we had one! It was really rewarding and something that nobody will ever forget.”
“The first day of the expedition was long and nearly all uphill. In the last hour we had a blizzard and a white-out whilst on a very steep slope. It was really tough but the sense of achievement and relief when we got to the hut was great.”
“I expected this day to be just as hard but fortunately there was more downhill and it was around the same distance. the hardest part was when we got inside the snowhole, just before getting into our sleeping bags as it was freezing but luckily the group before us left their snowholes so we just slept in those. I enjoyed the downhill parts and I laughed at our karaoke session in the evening.”
“The second day was my favourite as the weather was lovely and the route mostly flat. Seeing the reindeer was completely surreal and put me in a great mood the rest of the day. Sleeping in the snowhole was very cold and wet. But actually, relaxing in there during the early evening was really fun.”
“I really struggled with sleeping in the snow hole as I get cold very quickly and really hate getting wet, with support from my team, some mental strength and a bar of dairy milk I overcame it and ended up actually sleeping quite well.”
“By this day, I was extremely tired and I was so excited to get back to a shower and a bed. Today we only did 6km. When we reached the end and saw the bus come around the corner, we all cheered as we knew we had accomplished the expedition. I enjoyed going to the local swimming pool after getting showered and back to normal at the hotel. The swimming pool was fun and I laughed a lot however I spent most of my time in the evening sitting back at the hotel thinking about what I had just accomplished: a really incredible trip. I recommend it to others.”
“It was relieving to finish the expedition going downhill. We started off in a cloud and we couldn’t see where the ground differed from the sky as everything was so white and foggy. We fell down a lot in that part but afterwards it was really fun and it felt so rewarding to see Hovden and the bus, knowing that we made it!”
D P Culley
Key skill 1: planning. Did you learn the importance of planning for all eventualities and ensuring you were fully prepared? Give an example.
“I did learn the importance of planning carefully as there were so many things which could have gone wrong without the right kit. E.g. frostbite from not having warm and dry gloves.”
Key skill 2: communicating. Did you learn the importance of careful and clear briefing together with good communication between each other? Give an example.
“Our group and instructor was always very clear with what we had to do so we never really got mixed up or confused and it made the experience more enjoyable.”
Key skill 3: teamwork. Did you learn the importance of supporting each other and helping each other when times were challenging? Give an example.
“Teamwork and supporting each other made the trip so much more enjoyable and made us more efficient and motivated as to not let the team down.”
Key skill 4: leading. Did you learn the importance of having a leader? Can you think of an example where it helped?
“It helped when someone was so sure of themselves and seemed to lift the others up. For example, Antonia was incredible and she constantly pushed through and made us feel stronger just by her determination.”
Key skill 5: evaluation and reflection. How important is it to think about what you learned? What you would do differently next time? Give an example.
“We learned a lot about team work and values and if I were to do something differently I would try to be better at cooking my meals because sometimes I was too tired to boil the water because it took a lot of time but I should have because I was hungry.”