Tayforth Universities Officers’ Training Corps (Tayforth UOTC) part in exercise NORTHERN FOX CADET 19, a Level 3 adventurous training exercise in Bavaria, Germany. Tayforth UOTC trains potential officers who are undertaking studies at St Andrews, Dundee, Abertay and Stirling Universities.
The team of 45 flew from Edinburgh to Memmingen Airport 20 Aug 19. Upon arrival at Drei Muhlen Multi Activity Lodge the team were briefed about the challenges they would face. The exercise commenced with poor weather and a strenuous two days hillwalking in the Austrian Alps involving scrambling. This instantly put the majority of the group outside their comfort zones with the steepness of the hills, the unsteady ground and the poor visibility. After summitting the Grunhorn at 2020 metres, the group descended through the mist to the sound of nearby cowbells, to the area chosen to stay the night.
In stark contrast to the conditions on day one, the team woke up basking in glorious alpine sunshine. With limbs aching from the previous climbs, they pushed themselves up the next peak in order to take in the beautiful views that were hidden from us the day before. They were also able to appreciate the stark ridgeline that had been traversed, thankful that they had not been able to see the 2000 metre drop the day before. Ambling down into the valley passing various sights and red-faced Austrians as they trudged up the hill, who greeted them with an encouraging Grüß Gott (the local Bavarian greeting).
Day 3 the team travelled back into Austria for Rock climbing. All began on a beginner slab, top-roping under the tuition of the local instructors. The confidence within the group was gradually built up, as climbers learned to trust their belayers and belayers their climbers, then progressing onto more challenging rock faces. Developing their techniques and facing their fears, they were able to conquer some very technical routes. The following day saw more vertical climbs as well as abseiling and learning how to boulder. This enabled many of the group to face their fear of heights and build confidence in themselves and each other.
The next Adventure Training discipline was kayaking on a placid lake. In preparation for our navigation of the River Illa on the following day, the group were taught basic kayaking techniques in order to break in and out of river rapids, especially the low brace position and the sweep stroke. Also being taught some swimmer recovery methods by the throw line with varying accuracy. With some refreshing and terrifying capsizes in the freezing river, the skills were honed and build our confidence in preparation for the river trip. The river proved to be amazingly challenging and frightening at times.
Still soggy from the day before, the next challenge was to take on White Water rafting through the grade 3 rapids in 10man inflatable rafts on the River Inn. We struck out onto the river, bouncing and bucking gallantly down under several bridges and, as we passed the home of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mother, we were adamant that we would be back. Disembarking from the rafts, we stormed area 47, the largest water park in Austria, wearily eyeing up the 27metre diving board and the gnarly adventure brand sponsored slides. Gathering all the courage we had left,the majority of the team took on the formidable drops. This allowed those frightened of heights to face their fears.
After 9 days of sheer excitement and challenges the team departed Drei Muhlen and headed to the city of Munich, visiting and learning about Dachau, one of the first Nazi concentration camps. This was a sorrowful but meaningful experience which will stay with all for the rest of our lives.
Exercise NORTHERN FOX 19 pushed us as a group both mentally and physically. Many were placed in situations completely out of our comfort zones but with the help of some fantastic instructors and our own minds pushing us to go that little bit further, we were able to overcome such challenges. The team developed many skills including confidence, teamwork and leadership along with many others.
Junior Under Officer Doran stated:
“Confidence was built by starting off each activity at a gradual pace, allowing each of us to get comfortable with what we were doing before moving on to more difficult experiences”.
Senior Under Officer McCracken stated
“Teamwork was enhanced in each of the activities: making sure everyone was alright during hillwalking when reaching high altitudes; trusting one another to belay when rock-climbing; helping a friend when their kayak capsized in the water or simply pulling someone back in from the river when they fell overboard during white water rafting, each situation had us working as a team to produce effective results”.
Leadership skills were developed through the process of team leaders, giving them responsibility over a group of people. Along with team leaders, the Officer Cadets with the most experience in each activity were able to develop their leadership skills by helping and showing others how to do the activity effectively. This unique opportunity would definitely not have been possible if it was not for the kind donation from The Ulysses Trust.
OCdt Hull stated:
“The kind donation from The Ulysses Trust ensure the trip was a complete success, allowing individuals to try out different activities, some for the first time in their lives. Many are now discussing taking up these activities as regular hobbies upon their return to Scotland”.
The donation given by the Ulysses Trust as given the potential officers of the future, an outstanding insight into what Service life has to offer.