34 cadets and 12 staff members from across the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and Air Training Corps (ATC) had the venture of a life time when they were selected to attend the new style Exercise Venture Challenge in Cyprus.
Exercise Venture Challenge is a 10 day Camp based out in Cyprus. The purpose of this exercise is to challenge the cadets by putting them outside their comfort zone and pushing them both physically and mentally. This year they found a new location to be based out of at Bloodhound Camp which looked out over the sea and enabled the cadets to relax more.
The cadets were spilt into 3 Flights and completed a round robin of activities which were mainly based out of RAF Akrotiri. The cadets spent 2 days touring section visits at RF Akrotiri including 84 Squadron to look at their Search & Rescue capability, EOD where they showed the cadets the robotics they use when a device is found and RAF Police Dogs where they were shown the different types of dogs and what they are capable of doing.
The cadets then moved onto 2 days of Adventure Training where they went climbing on Jamiesons Rock which is in the Troodos Mountains, this is a natural rock face which in itself creates some challenges as there is no set route to climb and the cadets needed to think what was the best route for them, whilst trying to avoid the local wildlife.
They then went onto walk the Dreamers Walk along the cliffs, although this route is a traditional walk it is by no means an easy walk. The route is completely exposed with undulating terrain meaning the cadets had to think carefully about the route they were taking, also the route showed off a lot of the local wildlife meaning the cadets learnt a lot about the types of creatures on island.
They then had a session at Akrotiri Water Sports Club where they spent time on the Stand Up Paddle Boards and other water based canoes. Not only did it allow the cadets to cool down after the walk or the climb but for some of the cadets it meant they were playing in the sea, sometimes for the first time. As a group they were given 10 man paddle boards which meant they had to work as a team to stand up and then move forward. Once on the boards they to part team building and leadership exercises. They were then given the chance to try the boards out individually.
The 2 days were finished with an afternoon on at the Akrotiri Kart Club with some healthy competition on the track.
The highlight of the trip was a 2 day Diving Course with Kembali Diving Ltd, and MOD accredited Diving Club. During these 2 days they were spilt into smaller group of 3-4 people and given a instructor/mentor per group who guided them through the course. They started the course with some theory based lessons which explained the kitting and the basic emergency procedures, they then went down to the kitting stores next to the jetty they would be diving from. Whilst at the kitting stores they were measured up for their kit which was allocated to them for the next 2 days, they then had to make sure it was maintained during this time. The cadets then entered the water for their first dive. This was to introduce the breathing apparatus to the cadets and also to show them what could happen if there was an air stoppage or their mask filled up with water. It was then back to the classroom for some more theory lesson regarding what to in further emergencies and how to make sure your team was safe. The next day the cadets then put it all into practice and completed another 3 dives which took them slightly further out in the sea so they were out of the calming bay they had been in the previous day. At the end of the 2 days the cadets came out of the water and had gained their PADI SCUBA Diver qualification. Many of the cadets had never dived before and for them it was a big challenge even just putting their head under the water so to see them at the end of the 2 days ‘like fish in water’ was great to see. It was noticeable which flights had completed the diving course as they worked better as a team and there was a noticeable confidence boost amongst the cadets as many of them had overcome fears.
FS Harvey Russell from Cambridgeshire said:
‘This is one of the best things I have done with cadets. Before coming into this week I was struggling at home with my parents not being well and I was finding it hard to cope balancing work and home. It had really knocked my confidence and I felt I couldn’t get anything right. After this camp I am going back with my head held high, I completed things I never thought I would. I had never been diving before and I thought of it was quite unnerving but under the instruction of Chris at Kembali I overcame this and I now think it has given me the boost I need to tackle the challenges at home.”
Overall the camp was a great success with all the cadets and staff coming back with smiles on their faces and new memories they will cherish forever. All of this was possible due to the hard work of the places with visited and the CCF Training Evaluation and Support Team (TEST) who organise the camp.
The Ulysses Trust also wish to thank the generosity of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust for supporting this expedition. www.rafct.com