Redditch and Bromsgrove Sea Cadets started a new chapter in 2018, working hard to support as many Cadets as possible in gaining a Duke of Edinburgh award. Aware that some Cadets had access to the scheme via their schools, the Cadet unit wanted to ensure it was accessible to all. The unit has supported 5 Cadets through their Silver Duke of Edinburgh and 5 Cadets through the sections of the Bronze award.
The aim was to provide a different set of skills to the Cadets and enable them to grow in confidence and leadership. The 5 Cadets that took part in the Silver award had not previously had access to Duke of Edinburgh awards and were excited to take on the challenge.
The group were supported by Chase Training solutions, a local Duke of Edinburgh award provider who would assist the Cadets through the qualification. The provider company trainers provided a range of skills to the Cadets over the coming weekends.
The Cadet team spent a day and a couple of parade nights developing their adventure training skills. These included learning to map read and gain the skills required to undertake a 3 day walk. The group completed a range of interactive map reading tasks, to test their ability on grid reference’s and to gain an understanding of the terrain they would be walking on.
The Cadets learnt how to cook during their expeditions with the instructors teaching them how to use camping cooking equipment and also what types of food are suitable for the environment. The Cadets explored different diets and how they could provide themselves with the energy needed to walk all day.
After the required skills for the expedition where gained, the group also undertook a range of group tasks to build their relationships and ability to work together. This helped them understand how they worked individually and allowed them to bond as a group.
Practice Expedition: June 2018
The group undertook a three-day practise expedition to allow them to build on and test the skills they learnt in the pre-skills training. The group started in the Lickey Hills, Birmingham and walked from the Lickey Hills to Beoley, a small village near Redditch. The first day they walked 6 miles. This gave the group a chance to use their skills and get to grips with the Duke of Edinburgh requirements.
The group slept in tents in a local community centre ground. After the first day, they learnt to pitch up for themselves and attempted to get dinner organised as a group. This was the first chance the instructors had to guide the group in how they should develop themselves practically on return to a camp site. The 5 Cadets learnt from this and adjusted where needed.
The next day the group walked from Beoley to Arrow, near Alcester. This was the longest day walking of the three days. The Cadets managed to take a shorter route at one point due to an unexpected obstruction, but they learnt to deal with the unexpected and overcame difficulties. On return to the camp, they improved on the previous night’s set up and cooking skills.
On the final day, the group were tired and looking forward to the last bit of walking. They walked from Arrow to Long Marston airfield. The group did this in good time and arrived in high spirts. The three days of walking and practising their skills were enjoyed by all and challenged them on something they wouldn’t normally do.
Qualifying Expedition: March 2019
After a few months the group were ready to undertake their qualifying expedition. This was a chance to use all the skills they had learnt over the past few months and on their practise Exped. The 5 Cadets spent a day planning their expedition and testing kit to ensure it was up to scratch. The Cadets prepared themselves for three days of walking and challenge.
The group met at the Green Dragon pub in Samborne, Studley at 0830 on the Friday morning. Final checks were done, and the group then started the first day of walking. The terrain would mainly be farmland for the first day and half. This gave them challenges of dealing with a range of wildlife and overcoming farmers boundaries. The group overcame this well and had no major issues with cattle or sheep, although they made friends with many horses along the way. The first day of walking started from Samborne, Studley, Worcestershire to Hanbury, Bromsgrove. This was around 8 miles for the first day. The group arrived at the campsite for 1600. As per their practise, they set up and prepared for the evening. At this point the group had improved the variety of food they could cook and prepare, which raised morale!
The second day they walked from Hanbury to Blackwell, Bromsgrove. This was the shorter day of walking, and they achieved 6.8 miles overall. They had the opportunity to use the outward-bound centre for showers and modern facilities. This also gave them the opportunity to meet other groups undertaking Duke of Edinburgh awards and they had a good discussion on the different aspects they all found hard and funny. The group got an early night to prepare them for the third and final day.
The third day set them a different challenge, and this was walking from farmland to an upland area. They walked from Blackwell, Bromsgrove to the Clent Hills, Stourbridge. The group had to navigate around the M5 and ensure this was done safely. They also faced a tougher day of walking due to the increase in terrain and mixed abilities within the group. The Cadets left the campsite at 0900 and arrived at the Clent hills for 1600, an hour later than expected. The group had taken a wrong turn half way through their day and took them an hour to re- correct. The Cadets found this good, as it challenged them but also gave them the urge to pick up pace to get to the final meeting point.
On arrival to the Clent Hills the group were met by the D of E assessors and unit team. They all had smiles on their faces, as they have achieved three days of walking and used various skills to get them nearly 23 miles from the starting point.
The 5 Cadets were of mixed ability, with one Cadet having dyspraxia. The group contained 2 x 17-year olds and three 15-year olds but they worked together and bonded well. The Cadets had minimally AT Training prior to this, apart from one Cadet, who was a Royal Marines Cadet and he used his previous skills to support the group in overcoming challenges.
Elizabeth Deeley Graham used this opportunity to help develop her Leadership skills for her application for Welbeck and advancement training within the Cadets:
“I have used the Silver Duke of Edinburgh award weekends and events to help develop my ability to work in a group but also with a group I wouldn’t normally work with. I enjoyed the challenge of map reading and getting yourself from one location to another, without any help or guidance. I think the fact that we were left alone to crack on, made it more memorable. We were in control and the group did things to support each other. I also haven’t laughed as much in Cadets!”
Alex Ludlow used this opportunity to develop his passion for adventure training:
“This year I was chosen to be in the Great Britain Freestyle Kayaking team and I have concentrated a lot on waterborne training but it was good and interesting to get out in the country. I really enjoyed the social element of working within the group and supporting each other”.
Overall, the unit has managed to support the 5 Cadets in working towards their Silver Duke of Edinburgh. They used their current Cadet work to complete the sections and support the wider community.
We also helped 5 Cadets who are undertaking Bronze at school to complete various sections for their award. This ranged from helping them gaining kayaking skills to getting them on courses to improve their PT Skills over the Summer holidays. Without the skills and volunteering abilities that the Cadet unit could offer, they would struggle to get some sections completed.
The experience was a positive one for the unit and we continue to get Cadets interested in the Duke of Edinburgh award and to take on the challenge.