17 September 2019
60 Cadets and 10 escort Officers from across the UK Army Cadet Force attended this year’s Ex Oak Leaf Canada Exchange over 6 weeks from 05 July to 18 August. Amongst those were two of our County’s cadets, Cdt CSM Teo Knowles and Cpl Kendra Ansley, Aldershot Detachment, Minden Company.
Both Cadets were amongst the 7000 applicants from across the UK, which was whittled down to 130 applicants to attend their local selection weekend. Out of the 8 County Cadets who attended the selection weekend, CSM Knowles and Cpl Ansley were chosen – Cpl Ansley being the best candidate in her selection!
CSM Knowles attended the Cadet Leadership and Challenge Course in the Rocky Mountains, Calgary. Upon arrival, ability assessments were undertaken to support the groupings; this would later determine the level of difficulty for the activities. CSM Knowles formed part of the 30 strong 6 Platoon, Bravo Company, who spent most of their weeks up in the Rocky Mountains undertaking a variety of activities from kayaking to mountain biking, while camping overnight.
CSM Knowles, an avid Mountain Biker anyway, enjoyed this element the most; he found the trails much more challenging than those in the UK which boosted his confidence. He also loved the kayaking as this was outside of his comfort zone. CSM Knowles said that he started off quite nervously and wanting to get out of the water as quick as possible, but the more he did the more confidence he gained and the more he enjoyed the activity.
CSM Knowles has this message for cadets thinking about applying to attend this exchange, “Go for it! Just ignore all your self-doubts and give it your all… I had the best experience and didn’t want to come home.” He encourages all applicants to train hard and be yourself, especially at selection; “it is physically and mentally demanding, but its all about pushing yourself past your known limits.”
Cpl Ansley attended the Fitness and Sports Instructors Course (FSIC) at CTC Argonaut, New Brunswick. Similarly, fitness assessments were undertaken upon arrival to ensure the Cadets were physically able to undertake the training that lay ahead. Cpl Ansley formed part of the 25 strong 5 Platoon, Alpha Company, for only the second year of running the FSIC. As Cpl Ansley’s course spent most of their time on camp, they were issued with a Canadian “Tilly”, a wide brimmed bush hat, to wear instead of their own head dress. This is traditionally worn during the times the flag flies, sunup to sun set.
A typical week for the FSIC started with fitness assessments which included the Bleep Test, Flex and Strength tests. This would then follow onto an outdoor activity such as rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, swimming or sailing. Within the programme there were also classroom-based lessons covering anatomy, building fitness programmes, and healthy living. Opportunities to learn recreational sports, including hockey, basketball, lacrosse and more, were also offered during the week.
On the Sundays, all the British Exchange Cadets got together to get off camp. Some of places they visited and activities they did were catching a movie at the Cinema, Shopping at the Mall, Go Carting, Laser Tag, and Trampoline Park. Particularly the 4-day visit to Halifax was Cpl Ansley’s favourite part of her trip. She said, “this was a nice change from the routine of the course as well as a chance to meet and get to know the other British Cadets.”
Cpl Ansley had this message for cadets thinking about applying to attend this exchange, “Just push yourself, you are much more capable than you think; it is all about mind over matter… Apply for the course you either don’t like the look of, or is outside your comfort zone, because you will love it in the end.”
Both CSM Knowles and Cpl Ansley have made friends for life during their six weeks, both British and Canadian. They have already made plans to have their friends come across to visit them. They have both said this is a fantastic opportunity who everyone should look to apply. The course application process will open in the new year, if this is something you think you would like to get involved with, ask your Detachment Commander for more details.