10 January 2017
Once winter hits, staying inside becomes very appealing. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s rainy – why bother to go outdoors? Well, there are lots of reasons: being outside in winter improves our mental health, gives us exercise, helps our immune systems fight illness and reduces our stress levels. So this winter, don’t stay indoors. Layer up, pull on your boots and head out of the house. There are lots of fun things to do outside in winter.
Volunteering with the Army Cadet Force is a good place to start. By joining the team of over 9,000 adult volunteers, you can lead or assist groups of young cadets on outdoor adventures throughout the year. Adventurous training is central to the ACF experience. Many cadets cite it as one of their favourite activities, and adult volunteers love it too. We do adventurous training year-round, so get ready to brave the cold and have a blast.
Skiing is the classic winter sport. Whether you’re just starting out on the green runs or you’re already skiing red or black, it can be great fun and very social. Go Alpine skiing down pistes or try Nordic skiing across swathes of backcountry. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can do self-supported overnight ski tours, where you spend the night in a remote ski hut. After you’ve hit the slopes, indulge in some après-ski activities, like cocoa by the fire or an evening walk with beautiful scenery. Within the ACF there is the opportunity to take part in skiing trips to countries such as France, Germany, Austria, Norway and more, as well as the chance to gain certifications in ski instruction, so you can teach groups of cadets.
Winter mountaineering with the ACF can take you to the Scottish Highlands or further afield. The landscapes are truly awe-inspiring, and the mountains are emptier than during summer. Even if you’re an experienced mountaineer, winter brings a multitude of new challenges. You could learn how to navigate in winter, how to use crampons and ice axes, and how to build an emergency snow hole. You’ll also learn about winter mountain hazards, including weather warnings and avalanche awareness. With these skills, mountains in winter will transform from impassable obstacles to thrilling challenges.
Rock climbing is fun in any season, but winter ups the ante. Winter climbing builds on standard rock climbing skills like belaying, abseiling, gear placement, knot tying and rope management. To survive the cold, add in special equipment, ice navigation and safety techniques like ice axe arrests. With the ACF, you could tackle single and multi-pitch ice routes in Scotland, Norway and more. Clawing your way up an icy mountain face will challenge you like nothing else; you’ll feel exhilarated and accomplished by the time you reach the top. Watching cadets increase their confidence on the mountain makes it even better.
Outdoor adventures never stop at the ACF. As the weather warms up again, you can ditch your winter gear and start doing spring outdoor activities.