Bronze DofE Practice Expedition

On Saturday 27th April 21 cadets from 2267 (Brize Norton) Air Cadet Squadron along with a cadet from 136 (Chipping Norton) Squadron travelled to Weston-on-the-green in Oxfordshire to complete their practice Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award expedition. This been just one part of the award scheme allows the cadets to consolidate their recent training and apply their skills in an outdoor environment under remote supervision of staff. The cadets had undertaken training in First Aid and emergency procedures, risk & health and safety issues, navigation and route planning, practical map and compass skills, camp craft, hygiene and food safety, countryside code and teambuilding. For each group they have to work on an aim throughout their expedition and provide a presentation at the end of their final expedition based on these aims which included local wildlife, farming in Oxfordshire and environmental waste. The cadets would then be taking videos, photos and notes throughout their expeditions show what they have learnt.

The cadets were split into 4 groups and dropped off at the relevant start points to begin their expedition and discover just how tricky it can be to navigate in the open land rather than using a map in a classroom environment. The teams prepared with their maps, compass and route cards set out to all meet back at the campsite for around 1600 (or so they planned). The groups worked well within their groups and after a couple of de-tours by 2 of the groups and a water top up at a local plant sale the groups all made it safely to ‘Diamond Campsite’ but yet they still had work to do.

On arrival the teams after their first tiring day had to work together to get their tents assembled before it got too dark and so later they would be able to get a good night’s rest. AirTanker had kindly provided 3 tents to support the expeditions that the squadron was undertaking and these ensured the cadets stayed dry and warm throughout the night. After the tents had been put up it was time to get a decent meal and the groups all had to cook a 2 course meal to ensure they were eating enough to support them throughout their expedition. Delights ranged from pasta, pre-prepared dinners to tinned steak and a variety of different camping stoves from gas, gels and Trangia stoves which had again been kindly provided through our sponsorship with AirTanker. After getting a good meal the cadets worked together to create their route cards for the next day adjusting them based on the learning from the first days work such as walking speed and break times. Before long the campsite feel silent as all 21 were asleep in preparation for their final day ahead.

As with the 1st day the weather was dry and warm and after all cooking a nice breakfast including bacon butties for the staff all the groups were off and away on their 2nd day by 0930. With the groups setting off in different directions they were following routes unknown to them so really had to apply their navigation skills in order to cross fields and woods correctly and understand the importance of bearings and distance. With one or two de-tours again for some groups everyone arrived at their finish points before dark and before long were been bussed back to RAF Brize Norton to head home for a well-deserved rest and recover from their weekend away.

Fg Off Holden from 2267 squadron commented that the teamwork and skills the cadets showed throughout the 2 days highlighted the spirit and enthusiasm that the Air Cadet Organisation seeks to encourage within the cadets. For many of the individuals taking part this was the first time they had to be fully independent for themselves and I think each individual has come away with something to learn about themselves.

The next stage now for the squadron is to conduct some further training based on the weekend and then plan on their assessed expedition later this year where the cadets will have to demonstrate to their assessor that they have what it takes to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Expedition. Our thanks go to all the staff who supported the cadets through their expedition including those from other squadrons such as 136, 2121 and WSO and AirTanker who provided tents, rucksacks and stoves to support the expedition.

Fg Off D Holden RAFVR(T)