8 August 2017
Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition
The Army Cadets is about fun, friendship, action and adventure. We inspire young people to challenge their limits and go further in life, no matter what they aim to do. Annual Camp is the highlight of the cadet year and this year was no exception providing an opportunity for seven Essex Army cadets to complete their Gold DofE Gold Expedition conquering Pan-y-Fan and the Black Mountains. Cadet Staff Sergeant Katie Laver from Basildon Detachment and Mayflower High School, Billericay gives an insight into the expedition.
‘For me personally, annual camp 2017 was a fantastic opportunity to complete the final part of my Gold DofE Award; the qualifying expedition. The multiple experiences I gained during the anticipating process are impossibly difficult to summarise in a few words but I can confidently say that I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
I completed my practice expedition in the Peak District in early May. The hilly terrain and variable countryside weather enabled me to form an idea on how difficult walking in the Brecon Beacons would be. Spending three days with my expedition group meant I was able to form valuable friendships with members of my team and further develop my communication skills.
Despite having lots of preparation, I still felt nervous when arriving in Wales. Thankfully, the acclimatisation day (during which we conducted a 15km practice walk) helped me to relax and feel more confident.
The qualifying expedition started with Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du, through thunderstorms to the breath-taking views along route. The group aim for our expedition was to explore the impact tourism has on the Brecon Beacons National Park area and we came to the conclusion that, with the measures in place to reduce erosion, the positives outweighed the negatives.
During our second day we hand-railed the Monmothshire and Brecon Canal, giving a well appreciated break from the previous day’s steep climb, and better weather too!
On the third day exhaustion began to settle in and injuries meant that the planned route had to be slightly altered. However, our team still reached the campsite with time to put up tents and cook a group meal before nightfall.
On the final day, the weather stayed perfectly clear, revealing vast landscapes visible from Hatterall Hill Ridge. Though hard to decide, I think that the best moment of my expedition was realising an increase in my personal strength and stamina towards the end of the fourth day – a personal aim I’d set myself.
As well as strength, I feel that I have improved my teamwork and communication skills, navigation and general appreciation for the British countryside. I would very strongly recommend the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to everyone as the life changing experiences if offers are nothing short of invaluable.
I would not be the confident, outgoing individual I am today if I had never enrolled.
Cadet Staff Sergeant Katie Laver, Basildon Detachment