NEWS

OCTOBER 4TH 2018

Army Cadets’ French adventure

One of the Cadet teams that took on the expedition

One of the Cadet teams that took on the expedition

Army Cadets from across Derbyshire travelled to the South of France last month where they completed an adventurous expedition by canoeing along the river Ardèche.

16 cadets went on the expedition and they spent 4 days and 3 nights travelling along the river Ardèche from Aubenas to St Martin, navigating the difficult rapids and weirs along the way whilst carrying all their equipment with them.

Cadets travelling down a weir slide on the river Ardeche

Cadets travelling down a weir slide on the river Ardeche

The cadets were all members of Derbyshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) and used the challenging expedition as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Cadet Colour Sergeant Oliver McKinley, aged 17 from Long Eaton detachment, explained: “The expedition put us into an area that we were unfamiliar with, that provided different challenges and considerations. Which is very much in the spirit of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“To achieve something so valuable in a place as beautiful as the Ardeche gorge was unbelievable and definitely enriched the expedition. It was one of the greatest experiences I have had during my time in Derbyshire ACF.”

In order to navigate the difficult river the expedition participants needed to develop their team working skills.

Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major, Charli-Jo Harrison-Smith, aged 17 from Long Eaton detachment, said: “During the course of our expedition there were many opportunities to perfect our communication skills both as a team and individually.”

Oliver added: “Progress can only be made in the canoe if you are working together. If a person stopped paddling to drink some water or apply sunscreen, the canoe would either lose all momentum or drift into a bank. It was crucial that we kept co-operating with each other throughout the expedition.”

Preparing for the expedition created new challenges the team had to face, they needed to consider ways to reduce the risk of heatstroke, understand how to tackle large rapids and overcome the cultural differences.

The other team of eight who travelled along the river

The other team of eight who travelled along the river

Charli-Jo said: “The language barrier was a real challenge that we took head on while in France, it was most noticeable during meal times and our pre-expedition shopping trip but as a collective group we gathered together our knowledge of French from over the years and just about managed to communicate with the locals.”

Typically Duke of Edinburgh expeditions involve the team walking in wild country and camping out each night but the Derbyshire team choose to tackle it in canoes because of the added challenges.

Oliver said: “The canoes imposed extra difficulties on our team, each morning the canoes had to be loaded and every evening we needed to drag them up the bank before unloading them.

“Our kit had to be carefully packed because it had to be waterproof when completely immersed in the water due to the risk of capsizing.

Disembarking to navigate one of the many weirs along the river

Disembarking to navigate one of the many weirs along the river

“Lastly navigation was also more difficult because there are limited landmarks along the river which means we needed to use all our skills to pinpoint our location and find our campsites.”

As part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award the cadets must make a presentation about their expedition, they plan to use this to examine the environmental impact of tourism and trips like their own upon the river Ardèche.

The expedition was partially funded by the Ulysses Trust which provides funding assistance to challenging expeditions and adventurous activities that involve members of the Reserve Forces or Cadet Forces.

Derbyshire Army Cadet Force is currently recruiting to find out more about joining as a cadet or an adult volunteer call 01332 772025 or visit www.armycadets.com/county/derbyshire-acf/

“Progress can only be made in the canoe if you are working together. If a person stopped paddling to drink some water or apply sunscreen, the canoe would either lose all momentum or drift into a bank. It was crucial that we kept co-operating with each other throughout the expedition.”