22 February 2020
Cadets and Adult Instructors from Lincolnshire ACF and Derbyshire ACF joined forces over the half term holiday and boarded a coach to head for their skiing destination in northern Spain.
Many of the party were new to skiing whilst others had experienced the excitement of the sport on previous occasions. Carefully grouped by their skiing ability, cadets were placed in separate colour-coded teams: Reds had skied twice or more previously, Blues once before, whilst the Greens, Yellows and Oranges were new to the slopes.
Cdt James Holland (Bourne detachment): “Skiing in Red Group was very exciting. The evening activities were fun and enjoyable too.”
Cdt Cpl Finley Marston-Smith (Crowland detachment): “It was a very well organised expedition - the hotel and ski resort generally were great. Skiing in Red Group was very enjoyable - our ski instructor pushed us and improved our techniques, whilst at the same time making it fun.”
Departing from Lincoln on the Saturday, everyone was excited for the week ahead. Although the thought of a 22-hour coach trip was daunting, it actually felt much shorter as everyone was having such a good time!
Upon arrival at the hotel it was all made very easy for us. The equipment was laid out and help was always at hand if needed. The 2-floored room, with its fridge, freezer, microwave, cooker and TV, was ideal too.
The following morning we met the ski instructor for our team, Ferran. Some of us had been taught by him on previous visits and knew he was excellent. He was soon testing our skiing ability; some people were moved up a colour, some down. We ended up with the ideal number of five people in our group - no one got left out and everyone supported each other. Our super coach ensured everyone improved his or her skills and this certainly added to our experience.
This year, the resort wasn’t as busy as on previous trips, so learning seemed easier. There were loads of different ski slopes too, all with varying degrees of difficulty.
In the evenings, the adults organised team-building activities for us. This brought us all together, allowing us to wind down a bit after our adrenalin-fuelled time on skis.
On the last night there was an awards evening, when we all received a certificate for something that we had done well.
We took off from Lincoln and made our way to Derby to collect eight more colleagues. By this point, many of us had devoured most of our food and were waiting for the nearest service station!
As the Euro Tunnel loomed, one by one, we fell into deep slumber. By the time we reached the French Alps, we were only an hour from our hotel situated across the Spanish border. Upon arrival we went straight to our rooms to unpack. Then to a short briefing about emergency exits and how the days would unfold.
On the first day, Yellow Group went out to the Green slopes - to get the feel of the snow and to learn how to do the ‘snowplough’. We had to learn to walk on snow and how to control our skis. Only when the basics were absorbed could we expect to move to the more challenging slopes.
On the second day we all decided to experience one of the beginner Blue slopes. (A cadet lance corporal from the Greens was very pleased to be ‘promoted’ to the more challenging Yellow group.)
Towards the third day, Instructor “Serge” told us that we were ready to try out the slalom and achieve our fastest time going down. Surprisingly, the heaviest person was the quickest.
On Day 4, we were at La Cerdanya to try out more Blue slopes. It was time to perfect the parallel turns we had learnt that morning. We descended at least eight Blue slopes so felt we’d earned our drink at the cafe on the mountain.
On the final day we ventured up towards the top of the two impressive mountains in La Molina: La Tosa and La Cerdanya. Yellow group went down two Reds and a ton of Blues. With the trip drawing rapidly to an end, it was time to take in the view and enjoy the skills learnt.
Our Yellow Group must have had the sharpest appetites, as we were the only ones to stay at the cafe and eat pizzas and those delicious crepes. After lunch, we decided to carry on down the Blue slopes and have a chilled afternoon going down a Red slope to end off the mountain.
We ended the familiar Green slope knowing how to walk backwards down the slope!
The journey homeward was really enjoyable as we had all got on so well and forged some great friendships. We had to say goodbye to Cadet Staff Sergeant Craft, as this was his last camp/trip with the Cadets. He will be greatly missed both by cadets and adults. He was excellent at keeping cadets in good order.
Orange Group achieved a number of goals, including learning to ski, descending Red slopes and learning new skills on the snow.
Highlights included: descending the Red slopes, enjoying crepes, meeting new people and generally having a good time:
Our instructor was a very friendly and approachable man and guided us whenever we needed it. OK, the variety of food available didn’t suit everyone all the time and, for some, it became a tad repetitious. This can sometimes impact on energy levels when out on the slopes. Notwithstanding that, all cadets in the group had an amazing time and would love to return.
Cdt Cpl Keira Hedger (Kirton detachment):
The ski slopes were ranged from green to black and evenly spaced out, so we got to go over all the mountains. The views were spectacular, especially when we reached the peaks. Carlos, our ski instructor, helped us progress and we all achieved a lot of goals towards a return ski trip.
Cdt Isabelle Witherington (Kirton detachment):
Although we had to wait a while for our rooms it was well worth it! Our accommodation was very spacious and comfortable.
The instructors gave us amazing tips and within the team we each had nicknames - this made the activities even more fun!
Cdt L/Cpl Lydia Omahoney (Metheringham detachment):
This week was enjoyable; my group supported me through every challenge.
I also liked trying new foods at the hotel at breakfast, lunch and tea. The challenge of skiing was exciting but, of course, frustrating at times!
Reflections from the adults:
SSI Sewell: “For me it was fabulous to see those cadets new to skiing learn the basics and then overcome their fear and progress onto harder slopes.”
Maj Watson: “The dedication and professionalism of the adults, who have given up their personal time to conduct this expedition, has given many youngsters the opportunity to travel abroad and experience the adventure of skiing.”
Col Sackree: “Fantastic collaboration between two cadet-focussed ACF Counties delivering amazing results.”
CAA Sgt Maj Bruton: “The cadets’ discipline, professionalism and self pride impressed me. It was a pleasure to take them abroad for a week.”
Sgt Maj Cross (Derbys ACF): “A fantastic week in a cadet-friendly resort offering a wide range of skiing for beginners to experienced skiers. The instructors and resort were perfect for our expedition. I spent the week working with a beginners group and it was amazing to see how quickly they came along - from never skiing before to tackling Red slopes by the end of that week. It was fantastic team-building experience for cadets and staff from both counties. Certainly one of the best ski expeditions I’ve been fortunate to attend.”
Capt Amara-Carnell (Training Officer 3 Coy): “The behaviour and attitude of all the cadets truly impressed me. They listened carefully to their ski instructors, dug deep and, as a result, every single one of them progressed, whilst having a thoroughly amazing time.”
See more images here: https://armycadets.com/county/...