29 December 2018
Once a year the cadets are given the opportunity to participate in ‘Exercise Itchyfoot’, yes you read that correctly Itchyfoot. It is a week of Adventurous training - kayaking, trail biking, caving, mountain walking, rock climbing and abseiling. No MTP kit in sight, just comfy trainers and your tracksuit bottoms.
Early morning start on the Saturday, with a convoy of minibuses and trailers of kayaks, bikes and kit. Spirits were high as we all boarded for the journey ahead, some minibuses were full of singing and jokes, while one or two were full of snoring and head rolling.
Arrival at camp was done with a bang, Essex had arrived and didn’t they know it, kit was being unloaded and organized everywhere. Once everyone had a bed space, briefings began, being split up into groups allowed the cadets to mix and mingle within their companies. Then came the excitement of issuing safety kit and all the gear for the following days adventure. Questions arising ‘What do I do with this? Why do I need that?’ All became clear the following morning.
Duration of the week - With alarms going off and the hustle and bustle of morning routines, out to breakfast and split off onto different vehicles, we were on our way to our first activities.
Kayaking - First things first safety, swift change into wet gear, then onto the water for a basic introduction to paddling, capsizing and grouping together. Games and challenges kept spirits high, and the cadets soaked, but all done while laughter filled the air.
Trail biking—Safety first, head gear on and away they went, up and down bumps and hills, and the singing continued. Always tell who had been on the bikes while walking into dinner.
Caving - First stop meet up with the local caving expert, safety and down they went into Giants hole. Ladder climbing and steps crawling, some of it even done in the dark, the head torches came in handy. As they crawled out wet to the knees, there was a buzz of ‘can we go down again?’
Mountain Walking – Walking boots? Check! Full water bottle? Check! Sun cream on? Check! Off we went, sun shining, and compasses at the ready. Up and down the hills, through sheep and cow fields, greeted at the end by a little café and some cold ice cream. With an approximate distance of 16km, some funny tan lines, exquisite views it was a tiring but beautiful day.
Rock climbing and abseiling – It begins with S? Yes safety first and foremost. Harnesses and helmets on, checked and double checked. Up the rock side they went, some like spiderman and others taking a casual crawl. Fears conquered and excitement built, success!
All in all a week of activities that are not only rare to do within the Army Cadet Force, but rare in day to day life. Both adults and cadets on a natural high not only from the activities experienced but new friends made, and the build up to next year.