South West Region

Successful AT weekend made possible by squadron collaborations

The weekend of 17-19 Oct was a weekend for challenging yourself in the outdoors for cadets and staff from Thames Valley Wing and beyond. Thames Valley Wing Adventure Training Officer, Flt Lt Christlieb provides an insight to what goes on during an assessment weekend and the opportunities available to cadets and staff within the ATC.

“The weekend was inspired by the need to assess 9 candidates for the Basic Expedition Leaders Award (BEL).  As part of this award, we are required to assess candidates on their ability to supervise groups remotely.  To do this realistically, we asked local squadrons if they could send us a team of cadets who wanted to complete their Bronze DoE.  These cadets would not be dependent on the BEL candidates, but would allow the BEL candidates to use their skills in a real setting.  As the planning progressed it became apparent that there were 23 cadets who wanted to complete their expeditions.  This would need four qualified staff; the plea went out; and the AT community rose to the occasion.  Five mountain leaders, one Walking Group Leader, one BEL holder and an expedition assessor stepped up and made the weekend work. 

The weekend was wet and cold at times, but morale was never in doubt.  The BEL group performed well, and the cadets walked accurately and well.  Expedition projects varied from assessing flora to photographs of the seasons.  Navigation errors were corrected and timings kept with remarkable precision.

The weekend was held at Far Peak Campsite near Northleach; this campsite has a substantial climbing wall, which proved too tempting.  Two of the staff working this weekend were climbing qualified, and so we called for cadets.  Eleven cadets expressed an interest, and during the course of Saturday cadets got a chance to climb and abseil.  Two of the cadets (from Witney) were the most recent of intakes, both under 13 years old.  Their early experience of being in the corps will have been a very memorable one.  A long climb to 12.5 m when you are only 1.5 m high!

All in all, 52 people from 13 squadrons and 1 ACF detachment were on the ground. A group bound by uniformed ideals and a willingness to get out into the countryside and challenge themselves."

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